GSA Goes Google
The General Services Administration–which oversees government procurement–will soon become the first major federal office to move to cloud-based email and calendar apps on an agency-wide basis. And it’s chosen Google Apps to do it.
A hard-won victory for Google, which beat out Microsoft for the $6.7 million five-year contract, leaving the folks up in Redmond more than a little peeved to see Office’s ubiquity in government threatened in this way.
“We are disappointed in the GSA’s internal e-mail decision,” the company said in a post to its “Why Microsoft” blog, adding that it is nonetheless “gratified that so many federal, state & local governments have chosen Microsoft to meet their business needs.”
You can almost hear the gritting teeth, can’t you? The horror of 15,000 GSA employees all using Gmail….
So again, a coup for Google, which has been working hard to push its cloud computing suite of messaging and collaboration apps to the government.
Interestingly, sources close to the negotiations tell me that the RFP (Request for Proposal) for the GSA contract was amended midway through the process to allow for offshoring of government data outside the United states–as an accommodation for Google.
Which is odd, because you’d think that if the United States government is embracing cloud computing, it would prefer the clouds in which its data is stored to be within its own borders. That Google requested and was granted the option to store GSA data offshore isn’t necessarily troubling (it must meet GSA security requirements regardless), but it is…interesting.
Google wouldn’t tell me the reason for its request, although I’ve heard it may have something to do with how the company segregates data and apps geographically. It was, however, quick to insist that it isn’t planning to offshore any U.S. government data entrusted to it–at least, currently.
Said spokesman Andrew Kovacs, “The government’s starting with Gmail and Calendar, and their data will be stored in a segregated system located in the continental United States that is exclusively for our government customers.”