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Microsoft Wins USDA Cloud Contract; Google Complains

Another day, another federal agency moving to the cloud. This time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture picked Microsoft's cloud e-mail offering in what turns out to be the largest government cloud deal ever. (That's a record soon to be broken, we imagine. Heads up, partners.)

Anyway, so, that's about it, right? Microsoft wins a big contract, Google says "gosh darn it" and everybody goes back home, right? Ha. We all know better than that. Google's apparent reaction to the USDA news was "whaaaaaaat?" Followed, of course, by complaints. And maybe they're legitimate -- Google says that it didn't even get to bid on the USDA deal.

All of this, of course, follows on the heels of Microsoft's protest that the General Services Administration played a shell game with Redmond before choosing Google for its cloud implementation. Microsoft's gripe might very well be legitimate as well, which leads us to conclude one thing: Government is seriously messed up.

Is anybody surprised? Inefficiencies and questionable dealings in the federal government? Really? How could this have happened? Seriously, the fact is that governments of all sizes are fast becoming cloud customers because they can ditch old, costly messaging systems (probably provided by Microsoft...) for new, taxpayer-friendly, low-maintenance cloud implementations.

That's good news for everybody, right? Partners, taxpayers, Microsoft, Google... Well, sort of. Yes, there's money to be made there, but let's not forget that we're talking about government institutions here, the inner workings of which have all the elegance and appeal of a rendering plant. Hold your nose before you go in if you know what's good for you, and don't expect to come out without getting some blood on your electric-blue Microsoft dress shirt.

As for Microsoft's complaints about the GSA, reader Aaron is less than sympathetic. He says:

"I think that Microsoft gets what they asked for. If Microsoft was serious about competing with Google, they'd invent something like ‘Excel Services" and charge $50,000 per site license. Oh, wait a second...that's what Microsoft did, huh? No wonder people use Google spreadsheets over Microsoft solutions!"

Aaron, it's hard to argue with you there. We do think that Microsoft has a pretty solid cloud offering together overall, but some of the price tags here and there do leave us scratching our heads.

What's your take on working with government institutions? Do Microsoft and Google have the right to complain? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on December 09, 2010


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