Google vs. Microsoft in the Cloud

The newest battle between Google and Microsoft concerns selling Web-based email and other software to the federal government.

These two technology giants already compete to win contracts from private businesses as well as state and local governments by attracting customers who hope to cut costs by switching to Web-based software from programs installed on their own computers.

Now Google and Microsoft are vying to take over the job of providing email to the General Services Administration, the U.S. agency that oversees government procurement and manages federal property.

The contract’s size is substantial incentive enough––15,000 + employee email accounts. However, according to the Wall Street Journal who notes that the bidding is being closely watched because the GSA assists in shaping how other agencies acquire new technology. “The GSA is in a unique position as an influencer,” says Curt Kolcun, vice president of Microsoft’s public-sector business.

Security is perhaps the biggest factor in deciding whether or not to adopt cloud mail.The cloud-based vendors, are responsible for storing and securing personal and confidential information for its users.

On Thursday the GSA certified that Google’s email and word-processing service, known as Google Apps, meets security requirements to qualify for use by the agency, a GSA spokeswoman said.

Microsoft says it is close to obtaining the same certification for a Web-based version of Exchange, a widely used program for managing email that most organizations run on their own server systems.

As an aside, the GSA now uses Lotus Notes from International Business Machines and says it  expects to award the new contract before the end of this fiscal year.it does not put a dollar amount on this contract.

More than 90% of the U.S. Federal Government uses Microsoft Exchange for email at present. One of the complaints of email users in the past has been the limited email space offered them on their company servers. The cloud solution seems, at least  at this time to offer less storage space constraint. If Goolge attains this contract it could be a coup if the GSA ‘s example influence reaches some of these govenment agencies as well.

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