Yesterday, Los Angeles city council voted to become the largest city in the United States to rely entirely on Google's gmail to run its e-mail system. The city's 30,000 employees will now have their e-mail managed and stored by Google.
There are certainly concerns with handing over this type of function to a third party. Any gmail user will know that it sees its downtime, like any other service. I would guess, though, it's probably no more often than any other employer-provided e-mail I've ever had.
Naturally, security is a huge concern. After all, it was just weeks ago that Google had to change its practice of allowing certain voice mail transcripts of users of its Google Voice system which were posted online to be searchable by search engine crawlers.
The LA police will be the last users to migrate over to the gmail system once the security and integrity of the system has been proven.
As lawyers, the security of our communications is critical. I can rely on the infrastructure of a large firm to make sure all the necessary security is in place. I wonder, however, when I receive e-mails from someone using yahoo or gmail for professional purposes, whether that security level has been assured. The stringent requirements that the LAPD is sure to require may generate gains for everyone relying on google for their e-mail.
As an aside, if this generates even more use of "the cloud" for everyday computing, America may need another Hoover Dam.