Google Apps has met security requirements to qualify it for use by the General Services Administration, a big coup as the company seeks to fend off Microsoft's increasing encroachment on its collaboration software in the cloud business.
Funny how the market has flipped. Three years ago, Google was viewed as the challenger to Microsoft's on-premise desktop office software hegemony, inking deals wiith Capgemini and the like.
Now Microsoft is Google's challenger in the cloud, as the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall warning) July 26 that Microsoft and Google are both vying for the big business of the GSA, which sports 15,000 e-mail accounts and oversees government procurement in the U.S.
The story seems well timed to offset the negative news that Google is late in implementing Google Apps in Los Angeles due to security fears. More on that later.
Back to the good news. The GSA July 22 certified that Google Apps meets the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification, which is table stakes for government IT and part of Google's government cloud push.
Microsoft, which is also vying to win government contracts, does not have that certification yet for its Business Productivity Online Suite, but says it is close.
Meanwhile, the emergence of Google and Microsoft as contenders to power the GSA's cloud e-mail and word processing is bad news for IBM, whose Lotus Notes is currently the collaboration software of record with the GSA, according to the Journal.
That contract is up by the end of the fiscal year. No word on whether the GSA is considering IBM's own cloud suite, IBM LotusLive Notes. I checked with IBM and will update when and if I hear more about IBM's plans to defend its turf.
Of course, souring Google's GSA certification is Google's delay of the full implementation of Google Apps for the City of Los Angeles. LA awarded the $7.25 million contract to Google over Microsoft for its 34,000 workers.
The project should have been done by June, but unfortunately for Google the project isn't expected to be completed until the end of August because LA's police department is worried about whether the software meets data security requirements.
That's just a delay not a disaster. Not, say, the way Google's loss of Serena Software as a Google Apps customer devolved.
Serena's IT director became disgusted with the Google Apps software and customer service and is currently switching the whole company to Microsoft BPOS.