the police department, fire department, technology areas, my employees, some administrators, etc. -- because we knew that they were the core people.

So we had a test group initially. I think we had 20 accounts and then when we decided we were looking into it a little more we used my entire staff, which is about 60 people, for the test. After that was done, we went back to the individuals who participated -- they were representative of the entire city, especially the public safety, police and fire -- and asked them if this was a product that would meet their needs in terms of providing e-mail services.

They admitted that it wasn't quite like Lotus Notes, but of course it had similar functionalities, and they could get used to the interface. Therefore, they didn't see a problem with it.

I report to the chief financial officer, and we made a case based on the cost. They saw where we would have significant savings. And then we took it to City Council. There were several questions from the commissioners. One of the commissioners was concerned about what we were paying now and what would we be paying for Google Apps, and we showed them the numbers. And then one other commissioner wanted to know compatibility with smartphones, and we told her this was seemingly more compatible than what we had before.

Were there any unforeseen challenges during the migration from Lotus Notes to Gmail?

The full rollout happened Jan. 7, and we would've been finished within a week of starting but it was too close to the holidays for the police department. We had 2,000 people moved on Jan. 7 to 10, and we delayed the police for a month after that -- so the first week of February another 1,000 were brought on.

It was everything from setting up the domain names to setting up the security considerations, looking at mail that was being brought over from the old Lotus Notes mailboxes to the new Google accounts, making sure they were encrypted and couldn't be decrypted.

There was a whole sequence of events that went on in preparation for this. We migrated the bulk of each person's mailbox during the last weekend in 2009, so we moved everything over that was in the mailboxes, and then between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7, we moved the incremental stuff that came over between the last migration. So when we went on Jan. 7, it was migrating over 2,000 mailboxes. But they weren't fully stocked.

We ran into a problem because when we were doing the migration prior to Jan. 7, it wasn't a big deal because we had all the time in the world to do this, and we did it on evenings and weekends. It was a process that was going on for a while. But in trying to move the "incremental" mailboxes over in one night, at 7 a.m. the next morning -- for 12 hours we moved as many accounts as we could, but we still hadn't moved 400 mailboxes over -- people were starting to come to work. We had to put those people on hold and migrate those 400 the following night -- they came to work thinking they would be switched over. The beauty of it though was they still could get to their old Lotus Notes mailbox; that wasn't shut off yet. So they didn't lose any time working that day.

You believe this e-mail migration has been successful. Has that positive outcome motivated you to consider cloud-based offerings for other applications?

I have been giving this major thought ever since we moved to the cloud, and there are several reasons why.

A few weeks ago, one of my managers came to me proposing we spend for more storage and a backup technology of

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor