Google Apps Gets the Government Shaft to Microsoft's Benefit

News Analysis: Google suing the government for anticompetitive practices is ironic at a time when Microsoft and others are trying to get the DOJ and FTC to sue Google for similar reasons.

When Google sued the Department of the Interior for allegedly choosing Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite with nary a glance at Google Apps, it revealed an onion layered with irony.

Google, often the target of scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission for collecting too much data or growing too large, is suing the DOI for preventing it from securing a major government contract.

This deal would help Google's relatively small Google Apps business as it seeks to challenge Microsoft in collaboration software.

Google's gripe is that the DOI unfairly limited its consideration of a $59 million contract to serve 88,000 workers' e-mail and other collaboration software tools for the next five years.

The company claimed in this suit that the DOI showed no interest in looking at Google Apps, the cloud collaboration suite the company hosts on its servers and offers for $50 per user, per year.

When Google tried to meet with the DOI, the DOI said it was moving forward with Microsoft because Google Apps did not meet the agency's stringent security requirements.

This is interesting when one considers the General Services Administration awarded Google Apps with FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) certification. The GSA IS considering Google Apps as a replacement for IBM Lotus Notes.

Unfortunately for Google, FISMA certification is satisfied in different ways across the dozens of government agencies. There is no unilateral agreement on what it takes to secure FISMA. So what is good for the GSA is clearly not good for the DOI.

Google wants the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to prohibit DOI from picking BPOS without conducting a competitive bidding process in accordance with the law.

Some experts believe Google is really just trying to cut off Microsoft at the knees with this suit. Microsoft is the entrenched incumbent in collaboration with hundreds of millions of seats worldwide.