Google Beats Microsoft In GSA Federal Cloud E-Mail Fight

Google has edged out Microsoft to be the cloud computing e-mail provider for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), giving Google the distinction of being the cloud computing provider for the first agency-wide federal cloud e-mail deployment and further fueling the cloud computing competition between the two powerhouse players.

According to the GSA, the move to Google Apps for Government, Google's Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certified and accredited cloud computing suite, will take the agency off of its old Lotus Notes and Domino software and will save $15 million over five years. The GSA oversees the business of the U.S. federal government, providing real estate and building management services and acquisition and procurement assistance to other federal agencies.

"The U.S. General Services Administration announced today an award for cloud-based e-mail and collaboration tools that will reduce inefficiencies and lower costs by 50 percent over the next five years," the agency said in a statement in which the GSA announced its cloud computing e-mail plans. "The GSA is the first federal agency to move e-mail to a cloud-based system agencywide."

The selection of Google as the General Services Administration's cloud computing provider will move 17,000 GSA employees and contractors to the Google Apps for Government cloud messaging and collaboration suite.

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"GSA's decision to switch to Google Apps resulted from a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process that took place over the past six months, during which the agency evaluated multiple proposals for replacing their existing on-premises email system," Mike Bradshaw, director of Google's Federal Enterprise team, said in a blog post highlighting GSA's selection of Google for cloud e-mail.

Google will work with channel partner Unisys as the prime contractor to migrate all employees in 17 global locations. The move to Google's cloud e-mail and collaboration services will be completed sometime in 2011. The contract is worth $6.7 million over five years, and Google and the GSA estimated that the GSA will save roughly 50 percent over the life of the contract when compared to the current staff, infrastructure and contract support costs.

"Cloud computing has a demonstrated track record of cost savings and efficiencies," said Casey Coleman, GSA CIO, in a statement. "With this award, GSA employees will have a modern, robust e-mail and collaboration platform that better supports our mission and our mobile work force, and costs half as much."

NEXT: GSA's Cloud E-Mail In Line With Federal 'Cloud-First' Approach

The GSA's jump to the cloud is part of a government-wide effort to leverage cloud computing and reduce federal IT spend. Last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revealed that the U.S. government will take a "cloud-first" approach to IT as part of the federal budget process. Going cloud-first, the OMB has said, will fuel the adoption of light technologies and shared solutions and lead to the consolidation of the more than 2,000 federal data centers, which the government hopes to reduce by 40 percent come 2015.

"GSA's cloud e-mail award is in step with the Administration's cloud first strategy and demonstrates that agile, secure, reliable and cost effective cloud options exist to rapidly improve agency operations and services," Dave McClure, GSA associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, said in a statement.

The GSA federal cloud e-mail win is another chapter in the continuing cloud computing competition between Google and Microsoft. Since this summer, Google and Microsoft have been battling head-to-head for the GSA cloud e-mail contract, but federal cloud e-mail is just one of many areas the two tech titans compete in the cloud. Microsoft recently said that Google's heart isn't in cloud computing.

In a blog post, Microsoft expressed disappointment about losing the GSA cloud e-mail deal to Google and not being selected as the agency's cloud computing provider.

"While we are disappointed we will not have the opportunity to meet the GSA's internal messaging needs, we will continue to serve its productivity needs through the familiar experience of Microsoft Office and we look forward to understanding more about GSA's selection criteria - especially around security and architecture," Microsoft wrote in the blog post, which also added fuel to the cloud computing fire raging between the two companies by pointing out why Microsoft is beating Google in the cloud, despite the GSA deciding otherwise.

"Clearly, the GSA news underscores how robust competition is today, not only between Microsoft and Google, but also Cisco, IBM, VMWare and many others," Microsoft continued. "Competition is good for our customers, our business, and the industry."