Google, Microsoft, IBM Vie for GSA Cloud Contract

The GA invited software makers to submit their bids to become its new e-mail collaboration application provider. Google, Microsoft and IBM are all battling for the bid. Who will win?

Google, Microsoft and IBM have an important deadline coming up in their heated war for cloud computing contracts.

The General Services Administration July 30 invited software makers to submit their bids to become the federal agency's e-mail and collaboration application provider. The deadline to submit bids is Sept. 30.

The GSA, which oversees government procurement and manages federal property in the United States, currently uses IBM's Lotus Notes suite of e-mail and document applications for its 15,000 employees. Those apps reside locally on the GSA's servers and its users' computers.

The GSA, as part of the federal government's plan to modernize its technology infrastructure, is seeking to move to the cloud computing model that is proving popular of late.

That means procuring applications that vendors such as Google, Microsoft and IBM provision over the Web from remote data centers.

Vendors host the data; users access the apps through Web browsers. Companies pay a baseline price of $3 to $5 per user, per month for cloud e-mail services from these three vendors.

Google, Microsoft and IBM all submitted their proposals, GSA Associate Administrator for Communications and Marketing Sahar Wali confirmed for eWEEK.

However, each company declined to talk in great detail about what they submitted to the GSA. No vendor wants to unduly cede competitive advantages rival at the proposal stage of the game by commenting specifically about their proposal.

IBM, the incumbent, said it submitted its Web-based IBM LotusLive iNotes software for the GSA's consideration. Microsoft offered Business Productivity Online Suite, the company's entry into cloud-based collaboration.

That company also declined to provide specifics, but did confirm its proposal covered e-mail and other collaboration apps.

Google put forth its Google Apps for Government solution, which is essentially the company's enterprise suite of e-mail, document, spreadsheet and presentation apps.