Google's been flirting with government-level customers for some time now, but the Internet giant made a big statement with yesterday's release of Google  Apps for Government. 

Google Gets Certified

The addition offers local, state and federal agencies the same online applications as Google Apps Premiere Edition, with the added bonus of Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification, and support for government-mandated policy and security measures.

Big G claims that this release is the first cloud computing app suite to receive the certification, and will make it much easier for agencies to evaluate and adopt Google Apps.

Further, Google fully intends to keep up with ever-changing governmental requirements, starting by planting Gmail and Calendar data in a segregated system. These data are located in the continental United States, exclusively for government customers. Other applications are scheduled to follow suit. 

Remaining Uncertainties 

Meanwhile, a number of people still remain wary of security issues. Apps for Government was designed with input from early public sector customers in mind, such as the  the City of Los Angeles, where Google missed an implementation deadline because of lingering security concerns. Still, the city seems more than happy with the transition : 

Google's move is already attracting new customers as well, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a part of the National Laboratory system funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. By switching to Google Apps for Government, Berkeley Lab CIO Rosio Alvarez says they expect to save anywhere between US$ 1.5 million to US$ 2 million dollars in software, hardware, and labor costs over the next five years.

In addition to all those dollar signs, Alvarez comments on the importance of data sharing, another load lightened by Google:

"Smaller research projects with a few dozen collaborators often struggle with building the infrastructure to effectively share information," she said. "Google Apps makes it easy for them to deploy the services they need with no help from IT folks."

Google Apps for Government is a mere US$ 50 dollars per year, and you can get all the details here