Google cries foul over Microsoft’s US govt cloud win

Google has accused a US federal government agency of failing to give it a chance to compete for a cloud computing contract that eventually went to Microsoft.

The US Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that Microsoft would provide it with cloud-based email, web conferencing and desktop productivity software for 120,000 users. The vendor says it is the single largest cloud computing deal involving a US government agency.

However, web giant Google claims that it was unfairly excluded from the USDA’s tendering process. "We were not given the opportunity to bid for USDA’s business," a Google spokesperson commented. "When there has been a full and open competition, customers have chosen Google Apps, and taxpayers are saving millions of dollars."

It is the latest in a string of complaints by Google, which wants the US government change the way it selects suppliers. 

Last month, Google sued the US Department for the Interior, claiming that the department told potential suppliers that it would only consider procurement of email solutions based on Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite.

In August, it made a similar complaint against the State of California, which selected Microsoft for a $60 million hosted email project. Microsoft dismissed the complaint, arguing that Google’s product had not met the state’s needs.

"In California, the state determined that Google couldn’t meet many of their basic requirements around functionality and security," a Microsoft spokesman wrote earlier this week. "Rather than address deficiencies in their product by developing a more robust set of productivity tools, Google cried foul instead of addressing these basic needs."

Not all US government departments are shunning Google. Last week, the US General Services Administration picked Google Apps for its forthcoming desktop productivity tool refresh. Like many of Google’s recent wins, the GSA currently uses IBM’s Lotus Notes.

In November, the US government’s Office of Management and Budget revealed that all departments are to adopt a "cloud first" policy by 2012, meaning they must consider cloud-based services before on-premise alternatives. This will help the government reduce its data centre footprint by 40%, it said.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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