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Google Apps rubber-stamped for use by US gov

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Google has introduced a version of Google Apps certified for use by the US government.

Announced today during a press event at the company's Mountain View headquarters, Google Apps for Government offers the same applications as the existing Premiere Edition of the online application suite, and it carries the same price tag: $50 per user per year. The company says it's the first outfit to offer a "cloud computing suite" with FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) certification.

The web-based service is currently certified to operate at the FISMA "moderate" level, which covers "sensitive but unclassified" data, according to Google.

"We're quite committed to the enterprise. We're quite committed to cloud computing," Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters. "If you think about government services, almost all of them are suited to simple web apps...[but] it's taken a long time to get the necessary scale and security."

The new service segregates Gmail and Google Calendar data in a section of Google's back-end infrastructure that's separate from services used by non-government users, and all the data centers housing these segregated applications are located in the continental United States. Google says that in the future, it will segregate other applications in this way.

With the service, government organizations can use multiple Google applications from a custom domain, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Sites.

Last fall, when federal CIO Vivek Kundek came to Silicon Valley to unveil Apps.gov, a portal where government agencies can shop for online applications, Google announced its intention to offer a version of Google Apps specifically certified for use by the US government. After updating the service, the company received its FISMA certification last Thursday.

FISMA is, yes, a federal certification. But Google is pitching the service to state and local government agencies as well. The new Google Apps for Government is available now.

Many government agencies have already adopted the existing version of Google Apps. According to Google, over 100 government agencies use a Google service of some sort.

One of the company's most high-profile customers is the City of Los Angeles. Some City of LA employees have been moved to the online suite, but MarketWatch reports that Google has missed a deadline to complete the City's move to the suite, in part because of police concerns over security. ®

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