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Google Beats Microsoft to Win GSA Contract

Google announced earlier this week that it had won a contract from the Government Services Administration (GSA) to move more than 17,000 employees from Lotus Notes to Google Apps for Government. Google's victory is the end result of a six-month competition with several other large IT vendors who were also competing for the deal.

The ongoing conflict between Microsoft and Google over cloud-based apps has moved into new battlegrounds over the last year or so, with Google scoring wins in city government and education, while Microsoft managed to win over the City of New York to use Microsoft cloud-based services. The Microsoft and Google competition may be the most notable, but IBM, Cisco, and VMware are now competing for customers that would have considered safe and solid Microsoft clients just a few years ago.

In a blog post announcing the GSA win, Google Federal Enterprise Team Director Mike Bradshaw touted Google's progress in meeting government IT needs. "Earlier this year, Google Apps became the first suite of cloud computing email and collaboration applications to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification, enabling agencies to compare the security features of Google Apps to that of existing systems," Bradshaw wrote. "GSA is leading the way in embracing the federal government’s “cloud first” policy, under which agencies should opt for hosted applications when secure, reliable, cost-effective options are available."

Microsoft didn't let Google's win go without comment: Microsoft Senior Director of Microsoft Online Services Tom Rizzo blasted the decision, writing a blog post that criticized Google's offerings as being unsuitable for business use. "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." Rizzo writes. "For instance, in California, the state determined that Google couldn't meet many of their basic requirements around functionality and security. 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."

Business Technology Takeaway:
Despite some well-publicized wins like the GSA victory, the fact is that Google still remains a very small player in government IT circles. That said, Google has made some startling inroads over the last 18 months with their Google Apps products with a variety of traditionally faithful Microsoft customers, including local and state government, federal agencies, public school districts and universities. Microsoft is being forced to defend turf that it hasn't worried about for decades. How can this be anything but bad news for Redmond?

So what's your take? Is Microsoft being a sore loser, or do you also believe Google's offerings are truly not ready for enterprise and government use?

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