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Google finally wins DoI cloud apps contract

Two years of battling against Redmond bears fruit

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Google has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by winning the US Department of the Interior (DoI) contract for its Apps for Government platform, after Microsoft had snaffled the original deal.

"We’re honored that the Department of the Interior has selected Google Apps for Government, and we look forward to working closely with the DoI to give employees new communication tools," a Google spokesman told The Register - no doubt with a background noise of champagne corks popping after a two-year battle to win one of its biggest cloud apps procurement deals.

In an effort to save costs and reduce its deficit, the US government has been slimming down the sprawling network of government data centers and shifting to cloud applications. Microsoft has very close ties with Uncle Sam and was expected to win the lion's share of this business, so it was no surprise that it got the DoI contract. But then Google sued claiming bias in the decision.

The legal examination of the contract showed that only proposals that used Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) would be considered, effectively excluding Google's own Apps for Government package. But concerns were expressed over Google's apparent lack of FISMA (the Federal Information Security Management Act) security clearance.

Microsoft publicly accused Google of misleading the government over its FISMA status, a claim Google disputed.

However, this proved somewhat unwise since Google pointed out that Microsoft's BPOS package also lacked full FISMA certification. Redmond got its certification a week later, but the court ruling went against it and the DoI said it would redo the bidding process, and thus Google dropped its legal action.

Two years behind schedule, the revised bidding process has now been completed and Google has won the 90,000+ head contract, which will be worth around $35m over the next seven years - a change from Microsoft's five-year deal that would have cost $49.3m.

Ohio-based reseller Onix Networking got the deal, and will do a test roll-out over the next two months, followed by a full deployment if it proves successful.

"We look forward to providing state-of-the-art communication and collaboration tools, desktop video, document sharing and new messaging technologies to help Interior employees work more effectively with each other and with external partners," said Andrew Jackson, Interior deputy assistant secretary for technology in a statement.

"Not only do we get the features we want in a desired security environment, but our workforce will get the cutting edge technology that many of them use in their personal lives." ®

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