Google Denies It Lied to the Government

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-04-12 Print this article Print

The DOJ's point is that Google Apps for Government, which is not FISMA certified, is a different product than Google Apps for Business, which is FISMA certified. The implication is that Google must go through a separate certification process for its government edition of collaboration software.  

Google believes Google Apps for Government is the same product as Google Apps for Business and that FISMA certification also applies to the newer suite, as Mihalchik said:

"Google Apps for Government is the same system with enhanced security controls that go beyond FISMA requirements. As planned we're working with GSA to continuously update our documentation with these and other additional enhancements."

Google believes its disagreement with the DOJ is a difference of opinion, not evidence that it is lying to the court. Google said the reason it did not get specific FISMA certification clearance for Google Apps for Government is that it began its FISMA certification process for Google Apps for Business (then called Premier Edition) before it even launched Google Apps for Government.

Google has no plans to undertake a separate certification process with the GSA for the government edition because it believes that updating its documentation with the GSA to reflect the additional security enhancements should be enough to satisfy Google Apps for Government as FISMA certified.

If one hews to Microsoft's semantics, it appears Google played fast and loose with the definition of what is FISMA certified and what isn't.

For its part, Google clearly sees having FISMA certification, which again, Microsoft lacks, as a competitive differentiator as it vies for more government contracts such as the DOI bid. Google sees Microsoft's latest allegation that it lied to the government as a sideshow to the fact that the company has not attained FISMA.

"This case is about the Department of Interior limiting its proposal to one product that isn't even FISMA certified, so this question is unrelated to our request that DOI allow for a true competition when selecting its technology providers," Mihalchik said.

What the latest salvo underscores is the red-hot competition between Google and Microsoft for government contracts related to cloud collaboration software.

Unlike in search, Google is the pesky upstart here, poaching customers such as the GSA. Microsoft, with the benefit of its 25-plus years as an enterprise software maker, is trying to land bigger deals such as the DOI.

For Google, which relied on its search ad business to earn $29 billion last year, those deals are more about boosting its Google Apps profile than they are about making money.



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