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Microsoft and Google Skirmish for N.Y. Campuses

With new Microsoft agreement, the 64 campuses in the State University of New York system will have their choice of Microsoft Live@edu or Google Apps for Education for e-mail and applications.

Microsoft and Google’s jockeying for territory in the cloud market has spilled onto college campuses.

One day after Microsoft announced an agreement to provide its Live@edu service to the State University of New York’s (SUNY) 64 campuses and 465,000 students, Google fired back Wednesday, asserting that it “has had an enterprise agreement in place with SUNY for more than a year and a half” for its Google Apps service, and that 13 campuses are already using the Web-based service, a Google spokesperson told InformationWeek.

Morgan Hook, director of communications for SUNY, wrote in an e-mail to Government Technology on Wednesday that “as with Google, SUNY’s recent agreement with Microsoft provides SUNY campuses yet another option in providing students, faculty and staff with cloud computing services.”

“When appropriate, SUNY’s CIO and contracts team will work with multiple vendors to offer these kinds of alternatives,” she continued, “giving campuses the option to choose which service meets their local requirements effectively.”

Microsoft Live@edu and Google Apps for Education are Web-based, no-cost platforms for educational institutions that provide e-mail and calendars; file storage; document sharing; instant messaging; video chat; and mobile access for students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Nationwide, more higher education leaders are choosing to move core applications like e-mail to a hosted environment in an effort to cuts costs and give students and staff access to Web-based programs they have grown accustomed to using. So far, more than 10,000 schools in more than 130 countries have enrolled in Live@edu, according to Microsoft. More than 10 million students use Google Apps, according to the company.

SUNY’s partnership with Microsoft announced Tuesday follows last year’s agreement between SUNY and Google to offer Google Apps to all students and faculty. Monroe Community College, one of the SUNY system’s largest schools with 19,000 students, was one of the first SUNY colleges to adopt Live@edu, which occurred three years ago.

The college estimates it will save $600,000 over five years by using Microsoft’s services rather than provisioning less-extensive capabilities internally.

Within the next year, Live@edu will be rolled into Microsoft’s consolidated Office 365, a single productivity platform that combines Office Online Web Apps with other communication and collaboration services, such as SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.

University campuses aren’t the only places where Microsoft and Google are competing for business. In recent months, the two technology giants have announced several agreements with state and local governments for enterprise services.

Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.