Google vs Microsoft: US Government Agrees to End Microsoft Bias
The cloud computing market is huge, and as with any other technology, the government is one of the biggest customers (How Much Can the US Government Save by Going to the Cloud? ). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the biggest providers clamor to claim major chunks of this pie.
While Google may have been one of the earlier movers in cloud computing, Microsoft has dedicated considerable resources towards dominance, maybe overwhelmingly so (Is Microsoft Taking A Risk By Putting All Its Eggs In The Cloud Computing Basket? ). Microsoft has big plans in this field (Cloud Computing’s Unlikeliest Supporter ), and its BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite, now called Microsoft Office 365) is one of its most ambitious products in the enterprise space (Microsoft Office 365 – Reviewed In Plain English ).
Although Microsoft has a considerable presence in government due to its Windows and Office legacy, Google wants to break in. Hence, when the US Department of the Interior (DOI) allegedly favored Microsoft in a Request for Quotation (RFQ) regarding messaging products (email and collaboration services) for its 88,000 employees, Google filed for an injunction, and succeeded (Google Wins Court Ruling Against Microsoft In Cloud Computing Contract ).
According to Google, even though the DOI had given “assurances to Google representatives that DOI would conduct a full and open competition for its messaging requirements, the RFQ specified that only the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal could be proposed.” Google alleged that “such specification is unduly restrictive of competition in violation of the Competition in Contracting Act.” The presiding judge Susan Braden agreed that the DOI’s action did not include “proper justification or appropriate approvals.” The department’s decision included “no estimate of internal agency cost” of other options, she said, before passing the order in January this year.
Now, there has been an interesting development in this case. Google has now dropped the lawsuit, and in its motion requesting dismissal, it offered the following reason – “Based on the defendant’s agreement to update its market research and then conduct procurement in a manner that will not preclude plaintiffs from fairly competing, plaintiffs respectfully move for dismissal of this action without prejudice.” Federal lawyers, however, responded by claiming that the two sides have not reached an agreement, while unsurprisingly confirming that it had no problem with Google’s decision to cease litigation.
Even if the DOI agreed to an open procurement process, it will be an empty victory for Google considering that the $49.3 million contract has been canceled altogether. However, some experts believe that this may be a strategic win for Google, and indeed all non-Microsoft vendors, by opening a window to government cloud computing contracts. Further developments are expected.
By Sourya Biswas