Google has landed a major contract with the US government, convincing the 17,000-worker strong US General Services Administration to use Google Apps. And Microsoft has taken this as an opportunity to badmouth Google's suite of online business applications.
"There's no doubt that businesses are talking to Google, and hearing their pitch, but despite all the talk, Google can't avoid the fact that often times they cannot meet basic requirements," reads a blog post from Tom Rizzo, senior director of Microsoft Online Services.
"Constraints such as inadequate product support, failure to provide a roadmap, poor interoperability with other line of business applications and limited functionality are all reasons why public sector organizations such the State of Minnesota and New York City have said 'no thanks' to what Google is offering."
Yes, the bold letters are his own. And then he pulls out the italicized bold.
"It's no secret that large public sector organizations have consistently valued Microsoft's cloud offerings not only because of our deep understanding of enterprise organizations, but also for their ease of use, security and privacy capabilities. Regardless of how organizations are thinking about the cloud, Microsoft provides a choice for their productivity needs; on premises, in the cloud or as a hosted solution. Google does not offer any such choice."
Rizzo says that Google's GSA contact "underscores how robust the competition is" for government business, and there's no arguing with that. Google has struggled to win over the feds, but this summer it announced FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) certification for Google Apps, and the GSA is now become the first federal agency to move its entire staff to "cloud-based" email.
"Cloud computing has a demonstrated track record of cost savings and efficiencies,” reads a canned statement from GSA chief information officer Casey Coleman. “With this award, GSA employees will have a modern, robust e-mail and collaboration platform that better supports our mission and our mobile work force, and costs half as much.”
The deal is particularly telling when you consider that the GSA provides services for the entire federal government. Google-partners Unisys, Tempus Nova, and Acumen Solutions will migrate all seventeen GSA offices to Google Apps in 2011, the GSA says.
The GSA also called its move part of the Obama administration's "cloud-first" policy. "[It] demonstrates that agile, secure, reliable, and cost effective cloud options exist to rapidly improve agency operations and services,” said Dave McClure, GSA Associate Administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.
But make no mistake: federal agencies aren't exactly lining up to bear-hug Google Apps. Last month, Google sued the Department of the Interior, claiming it didn't give Google a fair shake when it settled on hosted email and collaboration services from Microsoft. ®