Municipality is reaping the benefits of moving productivity software to the cloud. Trondheim, Norway’s third-largest municipality, started its move to the cloud by switching to Google G Suite for its support tools and groupware. A year later, it says the cloud transition has led to improved cost efficiency, collaboration and increased mobility. “People travel less, they work much more efficiently and share information in a better way,” says Bjørn Villa, Trondheim’s IT director, told Computer Weekly. “These are the benefits of working in the cloud compared with working locally on a desktop computer.” The municipality’s cloud push was launched with a public tender in 2016. Trondheim wanted new cloud-based tools, including email, video conferencing, collaboration, presentation and storage services, for its 15,000 employees to replace its on-premise Microsoft applications. The move was prompted by user behaviour. Many of the municipality’s staff were using advanced digital tools in their free time at work and Villa noticed they were tired of sending emails back and forth without any access to real-time collaboration tools. The cloud services of both Microsoft and Google were assessed in the tendering process. Eventually, the three-year contract was awarded to Swedish cloud services provider Devoteam’s Google G Suite (then Avalon Solutions and Google Apps for Work), with Trondheim citing functionality, quality, price and the ability to deliver as key reasons for its decision. According to Villa, the actual cloud migration was straightforward. In mid-December last year, a selected number of emails were transferred overnight and the rest of the municipality’s 65 million emails were gradually transferred over the next month. The most significant challenge arose from the maintenance of the municipality’s own Active Directory, he said. A crucial element in the move has been employees’ enthusiastic response to the new tools, said Villa. Before the cloud deployment, he and his IT team were looking for internal “Google guides”, volunteers who would be trained to guide their colleagues through the cloud transition. In two days, the municipality received more than 450 applications for the roles.
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