Google counterattacks MS in US.gov cloud contract row

It's MS that doesn't have security certification, says Google in court papers


Google has fired back at Microsoft allegations that its cloud-based service aren't fit for government.

The search giant argues that Redmond's technology has not yet met government-mandated security standards while cloud-based services from Google have, despite Redmond's suggestions otherwise.

Last week, Microsoft accused Google of misleading the market about the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification of its cloud-based suite Google Apps for Government. Google Apps Premier is FISMA-certified, while Google Apps for Government is not, according to Redmond.

Microsoft said it had learned of the allegedly different status of the products in court filings stemming from Google's lawsuit against Microsoft over the award of a contract to the US Department of the Interior to Redmond for a cloud-based email system. Google launched the lawsuit last October over allegations that the bidding process was biased against open competition. The DoI is looking to reduce costs while streamlining its email services by going for a cloud-based delivery model while reducing its risk of data breaches, which is where the government-mandated FISMA framework becomes relevant.

Redmond's offensive prompted Groklaw to re-examine Google's filing in the case (64-page PDF/4.5 MB here). Google's line is that the "bid process" was a stitch-up with the outcome to award the contract to Redmond decided before the tendering process even got going thanks to collusion between the DoI and Redmond.

Lawyers for the ad brokerage firm further argue it is Microsoft's cloud services for government that aren't FISMA-certified, not Google's rival services. The DoI's selection of Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal – Microsoft's rival to Google Apps for Government – therefore violated government procurement policies.1

Google further claims that DOI made its decision to go with Microsoft in 2009, essentially because it had standardised on Outlook since 2006 and Office since 2002, before Redmond's Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal had even arrived on the market.

Questioned over these allegations, Microsoft referred us back to last week's post.

The complex case remains before the court, which issued a preliminary injunction in January placing a hold on the rolling out of a new email system at the DoI until the lawsuit is adjudicated, or the restraint is lifted. Meanwhile users at the DoI are stuck with using 13 disjointed email systems that managers want to replace. ®

Bootnote

1 "Google Apps for Government is the same technology platform as Google Apps Premier Edition, not a separate system" and therefore doesn't need a separate FISMA application contrary to Microsoft's "breathless blog post," Eran Feigenbaum, director of security at Google Enterprise, argues here.

Additional reporting by Gavin Clarke

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