Google Wins Court Ruling Against Microsoft In Cloud Computing Contract

Google Wins Court Ruling Against Microsoft In Cloud Computing Contract

Microsoft and Google have never been the best of friends, and this mutual dislike has extended to their ventures in the cloud computing space as well. Both these technology behemoths fully realize the immense potential of cloud computing and have been intensely competitive in trying to get one up on the other, with Google’s Google Apps and Microsoft’s Azure being two of the most prominent cloud computing platforms out there.

This competition for the cloud computing market saw an outlet in a decision handed down this week by a U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In her ruling, the presiding judge Susan Braden issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of the Interior preventing the agency from implementing a Microsoft cloud-based email system. Google and Ohio-based reseller Onix Networking had filed the lawsuit in October last year.

The judge declared that the department’s proposed adoption of Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal (BPOS) did not include “proper justification or appropriate approvals.” The department’s decision included “no estimate of internal agency cost” of other options, Braden wrote.

According to the ruling, the decision also failed to list any potential alternatives, including Google’s attempts to sell the agency on its products. Additionally, the agency declined to change its bidding process after Google showed it alternatives to Microsoft.

Specifically, Braden said, “The failure to list Google’s repeated express interest in this procurement cannot be explained as an oversight.” She has ordered the department to redo the criteria for the contract, valued at about $59 million over five years.

Contract Amount

The contract amount may not be large, but the ruling assumes significance in light of the potential billions that both Google and Microsoft are aiming for in government cloud computing contracts. Although the ruling did not find that Microsoft had acted improperly, it did say that the Department of the Interior did not provide a “full and open” competition for the contract.

Microsoft did try to put up a brave face with a spokesperson saying, “The Department of Interior determined that the dedicated, U.S.-based cloud solution offered by Microsoft met its minimum security and other requirements after a careful and thorough evaluation, and that Google’s solution did not. The judge’s decision does not address this fundamental determination. We believe the full record will demonstrate that this award is in the best interest of the government and taxpayers.”

Google, understandably, tried to assume the high moral ground and released a statement saying it was pleased with the decision “as a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general.”

We can expect more fireworks in cloud computing between Google and Microsoft in 2011.

By Sourya Biswas

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