Microsoft Lashes at Google GSA Cloud Contract

Microsoft lashed back at news that rival Google will provide Gmail and Google Apps to General Services Administration employees.

Microsoft is reacting strongly to news that rival Google had locked down a contract to provide Gmail and Google Apps to the General Services Administration.

Both Microsoft and Google offer cloud-based productivity and communications software and compete fiercely for large public- and private-sector contracts. While Microsoft originally built its business on desktop-based software, the its "all in" cloud strategy has resulted in products such as Office 365, which combines Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online into a unified cloud platform.

With its legions of employees and extensive infrastructure, the federal government represents a particularly ripe target for the two companies' respective offerings. Fighting is already fierce: in November, Google sued the federal government, alleging that the Department of the Interior unfairly restricted its bid to update its e-mail and messaging system. Microsoft's BPOS-Federal suite eventually won that contract, estimated at $59 million over a five-year life cycle.

Nonetheless, Google's new contract with the General Services Administration represents a significant step in its attempts to lock down federal business-and at least one Microsoft executive wasted no time tearing into the search-engine giant over it.

"There's no doubt that businesses are talking to Google, and hearing their pitch," Tom Rizzo, senior director of Microsoft Online Services, wrote in a Dec. 1 posting on the Why Microsoft blog, "but despite all the talk, Google can't avoid the fact that [oftentimes] they cannot meet the basic requirements."

Rizzo then accused Google's enterprise offerings of "inadequate product support, failure to provide a roadmap, poor interoperability with other [lines] of business applications and limited functionalities."

Large public-sector organizations, he added, "have consistently valued Microsoft's cloud offerings not only because of our deep understanding of enterprise organizations, but also for their ease of use, security and privacy capabilities."

Over the past few months, Google and Microsoft have concentrated on offering cloud applications to municipal governments. In October, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced a partnership that would bring BPOS to around 30,000 city employees. That followed Google's own agreement to provide cloud-based applications to City of Los Angeles employees.

A recent survey by IDG Research Services suggested that 75 percent of companies are either integrating cloud-based solutions into their IT infrastructure, or plan to do so over the next five years. In conjunction with governments' moves toward cloud services, that means the number of potential contracts for Microsoft and Google will increase-and with it, their competitive ire.