A federal judge has issued a temporary court order to put the brakes on a nearly $60 million cloud computing contract that gave Microsoft the reins of the cloud computing deployment for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Judge Susan Braden of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington issued the injunction that stops Microsoft from deploying its Business Productivity Online Services cloud computing solution and e-mail system for the Interior Department and its 88,000 employees. Braden said that deficiencies in the procurement process led to her decision to put the contract on ice.
"Without a preliminary injunction, the award will put into motion the final migration of Interior's e-mail system, achieve 'organizational lock-in' for Microsoft, and cost Google the opportunity to compete," Braden wrote in the 27-page decision. Braden wrote that the DOI intended to award the contract on Jan. 25.
Google and Ohio-based Google reseller Onix Networking filed a lawsuit against the DOI in October alleging that the bidding process for the government body's cloud-based e-mail and collaboration system was skewed to favor Microsoft and that Google was not part of a competitive bidding process for the contract. The suit claims that the wording of the procurement documents and the DOI's selection process put the spotlight on Microsoft's BPOS suite of cloud application software and didn't take into consideration Google's Google Apps cloud e-mail and collaboration play.
According to the lawsuit Google and Onix filed, the Department of Interior's request for a quote for an e-mail and collaboration system was written in a way that excluded Google from the running and that it specifically stated that the solution had to be a part of the BPOS suite. In the suit, Google said its exclusion was "unduly restrictive of competition." The suit claims Google had been in discussions with the DOI for several months about providing its cloud computing system, but the Google Apps platform was later denied in favor of Microsoft.
The suit ultimately sought to block the Department of the Interior from buying any of the Microsoft BPOS software until the agency opens the project up to competitive bidding. The cloud computing contract with the Department of the Interior is estimated to be worth up to $59.3 million over five years.
Next: Google Vs. Microsoft: The Cloud Battle Continues