Google Gets Second Crack at Fed Cloud

The U.S. Department of the Interior says it will consider non-Microsoft solutions.

by / November 2, 2011

Last year Google sued the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), following the agency’s request for cloud email solutions. Google executives were miffed the Request for Quotes (RFQ) required that any solution presented had to use Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

Google’s suit argued the requirement was anti-competitive. Microsoft, as Government Technology reported, countered by claiming Google Apps for Government wasn’t certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act. The back and forth continued for several months, with Google citing its cloud arrangement with the General Services Administration as proof Google Apps for Government was, in fact, FISMA-compliant.

In September Google dropped its suit against the DOI on the condition the agency consider solutions beyond Microsoft’s BPOS. In late October the agency issued a new Request for Information (RFI) sans the BPOS requirement. However, the cloud email project, which will move 88,000 DOI employees to cloud-based email, requires potential solutions to “integrate seamlessly” with the agency’s “existing front end desktop client, Microsoft Outlook” while asking potential vendors if their “back end cloud solution is fully compatible with this product.”

Google and any other vendor will find a host of challenges in the RFI that are likely far more difficult to meet than integrating with Microsoft, which Google does routinely. For example, the RFI asks “How quickly can your firm migrate approximately 88,000 users and 120,000 mailboxes into a consolidated single email platform as required by this project? How many clients can be migrated per day, week, month? Can you meet a six-month implementation schedule?”

The RFI also states “the DOI desired implementation deadline will be 12/31/2012.” Any vendors interested in the contract – including Google – have until Nov. 14 to say so.