I am pleased to confirm that all of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) nearly 17,000 users are running on Google Apps for Government, replacing their legacy e-mail environment. By June 20, our big go-live date, all of the key issues had been addressed and the final cut-over was initiated with the change in the mail exchange (MX) record, to redirect e-mail from on-premise to the cloud. By the time the engineers actually flipped that MX switch, most of the heavy lifting was already done.
Our transition proposal defined an aggressive six-month migration plan with three phases — IT pilot (involving 100 members of GSA’s technical staff), early adopters (a selection of 500 users from throughout GSA), and remaining associates (the rest of GSA’s employees). By June 20, almost all of the more than 10 terabytes of server-side data had already been moved to Google Apps, leaving just a small delta. With Unisys engineering advice, GSA had installed a new two-factor authentication engine to make remote access easier and more secure.
Our subcontractor completed the training, and GSA launched its more broad-based “Drive to the Cloud” strategy — e-mail being the first step. GSA also launched the Google Chrome Web browser to all agency PCs to ensure an optimal experience for the new environment. Late on a warm Friday night in Washington, DC, we were ready to go!
The best thing about the project was the team effort involving GSA and the Unisys team. For many of us, it was one of the most fun projects we had ever been involved with. And the opportunity for efficiency is now in front of us. The real story, yet to be written, is about collaboration. And while e-mail might still be the key component of our digital fabric, the opportunity to work smarter is evolving quickly.
There were some challenges encountered on the way for sure. I will discuss how we overcame those in subsequent blog posts. For now, I’d like to thank GSA, Google, our subcontractor, and everyone on our Unisys team for working together so well.