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Court Drops Google-Microsoft Cloud Contract Suit

Interior department may reissue cloud email and collaboration services procurement, now that it's scrapped plans to award contract to Microsoft.

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The Department of the Interior will scrap an earlier plan to award a cloud email and collaboration contract to Microsoft, and a federal judge has in response agreed to drop a Google lawsuit in which the search company had claimed that it had been excluded from the bidding process for the contract.

The government's move ends a nearly year-long saga in which Google claimed the Department of the Interior had crafted a cloud email and collaboration contract in a way that favored Microsoft, and thereby violated a federal contracting regulation that requires competition in contracting. The timing of the case, in the midst of a drive for more cloud computing in government, was significant, in that it could have had an effect on federal agencies' cloud strategies. Now, however, the case is at an end.

"We're pleased with the outcome of our discussions with the Department of Interior, and look forward to the opportunity to compete for its business and save taxpayers money," Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs said in a statement.

[Gain insight into the federal government's cloud roadmap and reference architecture.]

Last week, Google moved for judge Susan Braden to dismiss the case "[b]ased on the [Department of the Interior]'s agreement to conduct a procurement in a manner that will not preclude plaintiffs from fairly competing." That motion was quickly followed by a response from the Department of the Interior indicating that no such agreement had yet been struck.

However, in a hearing Tuesday, the government indicated that, "in light of new developments in technology and entrants into the market," the research on which the Department of the Interior relied when it issued the original contract was no longer timely, and that it had decided to drop the procurement. Braden had earlier indicated that, if she were to rule on the merits of the case, she would rule for Google. The agency is now drafting a request for information to prepare for the possibility that it will issue a new solicitation.

"We intend to conduct research to evaluate the cloud computing marketplace's evolution over the past 18 months," Interior spokesman Adam Fetcher said in an emailed statement Thursday morning. "If the research indicates that market conditions warrant a new procurement for agency-wide cloud based messaging and collaboration services, the Department will proceed in that manner."

In response to Interior's statements at Tuesday's hearing, and after Google again orally moved to withdraw from the case, with the other parties concurring in that motion, Braden dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning that Google has the opportunity to re-file the case if the company feels it still wants to pursue a resolution in court.

The primary issue in the case was whether the Department of the Interior had sufficiently documented its research to justify the decision to exclude companies that, like Google, don't have an option for federal-only clouds. The Department of the Interior had sought a federal-only cloud due to what it said were security concerns. While Interior doesn't hold classified information, it does hold sensitive financial, Indian trust fund, and oil and gas data.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 1:47:03 AM
re: Court Drops Google-Microsoft Cloud Contract Suit
Perhaps Microsoft has a poor reputation, but their only intention was to enrich the company; they were not trying to make poor products. And it is an error to claim that only a MS employee could assert that MS is more secure than Google. Many people who are not employed by MS are loyal to Microsoft. It is also an error to claim that Google is necessarily more secure. Probably, yes.
Both MS and Apple trade on consumer ignorance to secure loyal customers when they can: that's called advertising, or lying.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 7:41:24 PM
re: Court Drops Google-Microsoft Cloud Contract Suit
Like Apple does doesn't engage in monopolistic proactices? Faking pictures to keep Samsung from selling their tablets in Europe? Sound familiar? Microsoft, Apple and Google have no higher moral ground than the other. Check the IP address of the above reply to make sure it not a dyed in the wool Apple fanboi.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 6:03:57 AM
re: Court Drops Google-Microsoft Cloud Contract Suit
This is corportist b.s. You are seriously arguing that a "Federal-only" Microsoft-run cloud would be MORE secure than a Google-run cloud of ANY sort? What is the buggiest, most insecure operating system on the planet? Microsoft (Windows). Who has made the worst web design software ever? Microsoft (FrontPage). Who has a consistent reputation for not abiding by worldwide community standards and making their own proprietary, insecure, crappy browser software again and again? Microsoft (Internet Explorer). Who engages in monopolistic business practices to shove inferior software down people's throats? Microsoft (Microsoft Office vs. WordPerfect). Oh, and axing Internet Explorer browser support for Mac in a pathetic attempt to stopping a superior operating system. It is ridiculous for anyone but a Microsoft employee to assert that Microsoft is more secure than Google. Info Week, please check IP address of who submitted previous comment and tell us, is the comment from a Microsoft address?!
User Rank: Apprentice
10/2/2011 | 3:14:57 PM
re: Court Drops Google-Microsoft Cloud Contract Suit
This is a victory for open information systems! Now China, Iran, and ever other impartial country will have a chance to obtain data from the US government thanks to Google forcing the "We don't need security here" button. I am sure that all security managers will learn from the dismissal of this case and understand that information security is of the least importance to the court system. Open cloud systems are NOT the way to write a proposal if you require real world security in the US.
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