Google nips Microsoft as govt. moves to the cloud

By Reuters
Posted Dec. 7, 2010 at 5:20 p.m.

Google won a share of a federal government contract last week that the company hopes will give it a boost over rival Microsoft as they race to convert government agencies to cloud computing.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a five-year, $6.7 million contract to Unisys Corp and its subcontractor Google — a relatively small dollar amount but an important initial foothold.

As part of the contract, Google and Unisys will transition the GSA, which basically serves as the back office for federal agencies, to a secure cloud-based platform that includes Google’s Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Sites applications.

GSA is the first U.S. federal agency to make a agency wide “move to the cloud.”

Cloud computing is computing over the Internet, in which applications are delivered through a web browser, allowing any time and anywhere access to information.

Consumers typically use cloud computing when online banking or shopping on sites like

The GSA is a big win for Web search engine leader Google because the agency touches so many aspects of the federal government, potentially setting the company up for other federal agency contracts.

“It’s a real duel,” said Melissa Webster, program vice president for content and digital media technologies at market researcher IDC.

“Microsoft is clearly in Google’s gun sights and…Google is a huge threat to Microsoft in lots of areas,” she said.

She added that the biggest challenge Google poses to Microsoft is on pricing.

Software giant Microsoft expressed disappointment in the GSA’s decision. However, Microsoft U.S. Public Sector Vice President Curt Kolcun said in a statement the company remained “gratified that so many federal, state and local governments have chosen Microsoft to meet their business needs.”

But Google hopes the GSA win will begin to change that.

“This opens up the flood gates to a lot of agencies who really have wanted to move to the cloud and have wanted to see a green light to do so,” Dave Girouard, Google’s president of enterprise, told Reuters.

Girouard said Google’s advantage over Microsoft in cloud computing hinges on the elimination of software installation as Google’s cloud is entirely web-based, keeping prices low.

“We’re built from the bottom up for the cloud. That gives us a significant head start over Microsoft,” he said.

Microsoft said competition was good for the industry, and it was confident customers would not stray.

Microsoft offers a “private cloud” option that hosts its products on the customer’s own servers. Google’s servers must host their suite of cloud services.

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One comment:

  1. steve Dec. 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    How is this breaking news?