Google’s Government Cloud- A Sprinkling of Security Forecasted

The City of Los Angeles recently signed a deal with CSC, a systems integrator, to provide a hosted email solution from Google. L.A. was using an on premise email solution from Novell but found it less expensive and more functional to move to a hosted solution. However, what is important to note here is that is that the service being delivered to the city is more secure than the service Google currently provides to consumers and businesses.

The government cloud will constitute a “dedicated parallel environment” to Google’s commercial Google Apps cloud for consumers and enterprises. Data created in this cloud by federal, state and local government agencies will be hosted on separate servers within existing Google data centers in the United States. Storing such data on separate servers makes sense, given all of the sensitive information the government generates.

However, the federal version boasts greater security, privacy and compliance to satisfy the stringent requirements of U.S. federal government agencies, related government contractors and others that require the utmost security.

Future capabilities and certifications for Google’s government cloud will include two-factor authentication, enhanced encryption and the achievement of Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification.

In addition to including the certifications and security features, and dedicated infrastructure in secured facilities, the data center will be accessible only via biometric access controls by U.S. citizens who have undergone the necessary background checks to access the system.

Theoretically, this brings the offering in line with the needs of agencies and contractors who require extremely high levels of security protocols and features. Google aims to target the 300 million U.S. government users creating and sharing information on 10,000 IT systems.

So here we see the evolution of the concept of a “private cloud” from essentially a data center for a private institution, to a datacenter reserved for a certain class or type of customer. And within that datacenter, or cloud, is the need for security. And the security we find is usually being delivered by purpose built appliances that support the mix of multitenant or software-as-a-service application logic.