Google watches another cloud deal slip away

As another federal cloud computing contract goes to Microsoft, Google claims the government is unfairly favoring its rival.

The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded a major cloud computing award to Microsoft, and Google says this is the second time it has been locked out of lucrative federal contract negotiations while its rival Microsoft closes the deal.

According to Reuters, Google didn’t get a shot to compete in the latest federal cloud computing deal, opening the floodgates for Microsoft to do business with the USDA. The details are yet to be disclosed.

Google said this latest move adds to its suspicions that government agencies are unfairly favoring its archrival.

In November, Google sued the government for being kept out of the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) $59 million 5-year-contract contest for an e-mail upgrade.

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The lawsuit alleged that the government favored Google's rival because its requirements said the bid had to include Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. Google representatives made several attempts to engage DOI in discussions regarding the technical and cost-saving benefits of the Google Apps solution, the suit indicated. The savings, in turn, would keep more money in the pockets of taxpayers, the company said.

“The move is the largest of its kind by a federal agency and the first by a cabinet-level department in a growing area that is hotly contested by Microsoft -- which has long provided technology to local and national governments -- and emerging competitor Google, which offers cheaper but less well-known online alternatives,” Reuters reported.

The latest cloud computing deal involves moving 120,000 employees into e-mail, Web conferencing and messaging systems provided online by Microsoft. Cloud-based services are Internet-based computing environments provided to computers in an on-demand fashion.

In the bigger picture, Google's frustration may represent more than a game of exclusion.

“The lawsuit is about more than a contract squabble,” wrote Federal Computer Week columnist Chris Bronk. “…it’s also about cloud-based services and what venture capitalist John Doerr calls the Third Wave of computing, in which mobile rises to prominence as the productivity platform.”

Google has won some high-profile federal cloud contracts. In early December, Google was awarded a $6.7 million contract by the General Services Administration for e-mail and collaboration tools, as noted by Washington Technology. However, Microsoft downplayed the award while promoting its own features.