Google Sues U.S. Dept. Of Interior Over Microsoft Cloud Win

Google has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior alleging the bidding process for the government body's cloud-based email and collaboration system -- a deal worth roughly $59 million -- was skewed to favor its chief cloud computing rival, Microsoft.

With the lawsuit the contentious cloud computing conflict between Google and Microsoft has turned litigious. The suit alleges that the wording of the procurement documents and the DOI's selection process put the spotlight on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), its cloud application software, over Google's Google Apps cloud email and collaboration offering.

According to the suit, which was filed by Google and Google reseller Onix Networking on Friday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Department of Interior's request for a quote for an email 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."

Google's lawsuit claims that Google had been in discussions with the DOI starting in June 2009 about the agency switching over to its Google Apps offerings. Google said that the conversations started before a request for quotation was issued and that Google representatives were told that the DOI would conduct a "full and open competition" for its cloud messaging system. The suit also recounts several communications between Google and the federal agency where Google pitched its Apps platform but is later denied in favor of Microsoft.

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Despite being passed over for the deal, Google said in its lawsuit that Google Apps for Government could satisfy all of the Interior Department's requirements, but notes that the agency told Google that its offerings do not meet the agency's security requirements, which is why Google was left out of the running.

NEXT: Google, Microsoft Fight In The Cloud

Google, however, called the federal version of Microsoft's BPOS a "new product" and said it doesn't meet the DOI's security needs. Google also alleges in the suit that the Interior Department launched a pilot program to move 5,000 users to Microsoft's platform while the agency still maintained that Google had a shot.

The suit ultimately seeks to block the Department of the Interior from buying any of the Microsoft BPOS software until it opens the project up to competitive bidding.

Google's lawsuit comes as the cloud computing battle intensifies between Google and Microsoft, especially on the government email and collaboration front, as the two tech powerhouses look to bulk up their cloud computing resumes. Google last year beat out Microsoft to be the cloud computing provider for the city of Los Angeles, a contract worth more than $7 million that would put LA's 30,000 city employees on Google Apps. The Los Angeles project has been plagued by delays and hiccups.

And last month, Microsoft countered, showcasing its deal with New York City; a five-year deal that the software behemoth said that 100,000 city workers will be moved onto Microsoft's BPOS cloud offerings and that will save NYC $50 million over the life of the deal.

Not to be outdone, Google quickly battled back and highlighted that its Google Apps for Education offering has been selected by New York University (NYU) and will be used by the university's 60,000 students, faculty and staff across all 18 NYU schools.