Google sets up government sales shop

The 18-person federal sales team for Google Inc. plans to preach the gospel of cloud computing to federal agencies, the Washington Post reports.

The company's federal sales team is busy unpacking boxes, arranging bean bag chairs and testing the new massage chair in a Reston, Va., office building . Over the past couple of years, Google has been trying to educate federal agencies -- as well as the companies that work with them -- on how its search, e-mail and mapping tools can be applied to government business.

It may be one of the best-known consumer Internet brands, but Google staffers still get some blank stares when they explain their mission.

"Sometimes they'll look at us and say, 'But what do you actually sell?' " said Mike Bradshaw, Google's head of federal sales, who has sold technology to the government for IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

Their answer is nothing. Well, nothing entirely new, anyway. Google wants agencies and the firms working with them to give "cloud-computing" a try. That means, for example, using Google Maps and Google Earth to visualize massive amounts of information, or using Google's search tool to organize internal data, and storing that information on Google's servers "in the cloud." The enterprise versions of the tools, which come with extra storage and security features, cost around $50 per user, per year.

Perhaps employees could use Google Docs, a word processor that lets multiple people collaborate on the same document or spreadsheet. Google-powered e-mail systems come with built-in spam filters and virus scanners, cutting down on server maintenance costs.

"Most people are used to this technology -- just not at work," Bradshaw said.

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