Google finally defeats Microsoft in government contract battle

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google, partnering with Onix Networks, has won a major contract from the Department of the Interior, after threatening to sue the agency for bias.

The company launched a lawsuit against the department in 2010, claiming that the tender requirements for the cloud email and collaboration services system unfairly favored Microsoft.

But when the department scrapped plans to use the Microsoft solution last year, citing new developments in technology and new market players, Google withdrew the lawsuit.

Now, though, the department is to become one of Google's biggest cloud customers in the government sector, as part of an efficiency initiative aimed at saving up to $500 million by 2020. The deal itself is worth about $35,000 over seven years.

"This award is a great example of how our IT Transformation initiative is already delivering value to the department," says secretary of the interior Ken Salazar.

"Implementing a department-wide, cloud-based email system that helps modernize the ways we do business while cutting costs is good government, plain and simple."

The deal involves consolidating the department's email services into a single system, and simplifying its future data storage requirements. By the end of this year, over 900,000 mailboxes will be moved to Google Apps for Government.

Users will be able to access the services - which will replace seven different current email systems - using mobile devices as well as dektop computers.

"We look forward to providing state-of-the-art communication and collaboration tools, desktop video, document sharing and new messaging technologies to help Interior employees work more effectively with each other and with external partners," says Andrew Jackson, Interior deputy assistant secretary for technology, information and business services.

"Not only do we get the features we want in a desired security environment, but our workforce will get the cutting edge technology that many of them use in their personal lives."