As offices everywhere move their data to the cloud, Microsoft and Google are duking it out for the privilege of becoming their provider of choice. This week, Google scored a small coup when it became the first to breach the federal government.
The Government Services Administration, which manages federal contracts and facilities around the country, chose Google for its 15,000 employees. More specifically, it chose Unisys Corp., which uses Google Apps for Government–a suite of tools that includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, as well as Google Sites and secure video sharing.
In the battle for the public sector cloud business, Microsoft is actually ahead. Last month both the state of California and New York City announced they were going with Microsoft. Both of those engagements are significantly larger than the GSA deal. New York, for example, plans to move 100,000 employees over to the Microsoft cloud. The City of Los Angeles was the first to dip its toe in the cloud and gave an early victory to Google, but even that deal amounted to a mere 30,000 licenses.
Government agencies are eyeing the cloud to save money and improve efficiency. The GSA says it expects the Unisys/Google deal to cut inefficiencies and costs in half over the next five years.
The WikiLeaks brouhaha does raise security questions about moving to the cloud. After all, it was a breach of Google Docs that enabled a hacker to steal reams of confidential documents from Twitter last year (and hand them to TechCrunch).
Government Computer News, however, reports that the government version of Google Docs is different from the consumer version. It’s run on a separate, Google-owned private cloud with additional physical and network security and adheres to Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements.