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Google Or Microsoft? Army Users Get Choice

Army blanket purchase agreements to buy Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 licenses offer non-Defense Enterprise Email users a choice of cloud software.

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5 Army Tech Innovations To Watch
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Officials in the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) believe in giving users a choice. That's why they have established blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) that let Army agencies pick between Microsoft and Google for cloud-based email, collaboration, information sharing and mobile access.

In addition to a deal to buy 50,000 seat licenses of Microsoft's Office 365 suite of cloud-based applications through Microsoft partner Dell, the Army also has awarded a five-year contract to DLT Solutions LLC to offer Google's Apps for Government cloud platform to 50,000 users.

The two contracts are intended for use by parts of the Army that are unable to participate in the Defense Enterprise Email (DEE) program, including the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Recruiting Command.

A spokeswoman for the Army said that the two BPAs allow for "continuous competition, enabling DOD users who currently do not have access to the DEE with a choice in providers."

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"The acquisition strategy was to establish agreements with providers who demonstrated ability to meet the DOD requirements," she said. "Each awardee was guaranteed a minimum initial order of 50,000 users. Both Microsoft and Google through their respective providers were able to meet the requirements."

The Army recently completed the migration of 1.4 million users to the DEE system, which is managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency and uses Microsoft's enterprise email platform. Under the Defense Department's goals, DEE eventually will support 5.4 million users across the department.

The Dell and DLT contracts for non-DEE users competed against existing General Services Administration email-as-a-service agreements. The competition lets the Army build on GSA's past efforts on cloud-based email services, ensuring compliance with the DOD's unique security requirements while maximizing the buying power of the DOD for current and future needs, Army officials said.

The agreements also give users document storage and enterprise content management with an option for records management and digitally signed and encrypted email, officials said.

DLT Solutions was initially selected for the GSA's email-as-a-service BPA in September 2012, based on its experience in delivering Google Apps for Government and migration services.

The contract lets DLT Solutions "continue to provide secure, cloud-based email solutions to the federal government and meet the tight security controls required by the DOD," said Duane Thorpe, manager of cloud solutions for the company.

Shannon Sullivan, head of defense and intelligence for Google Enterprise, said in a blog post that the accessibility of Google Apps from any device will make the Army more nimble. Mobile technology is "imperative for efficiency while personnel are in the field," she said.

The BPAs are a critical step toward meeting the DOD cloud computing strategy goal of using commercial cloud services in the department's multi-provider cloud environment, officials said.

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