FAA Chooses Office 365: Microsoft One-Ups Google In Battle For Government Cloud Market



The federal government, lead by former U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra instituted a “Cloud First” policy in early 2011. The purpose was to propel internal adoption of cloud computing and other related services. 


Ignoring some initial agency concerns with cloud security, many government agencies are moving certain types of functions, like collaboration and productivity applications to the Cloud. 


On June 7, 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded Computer Sciences Corp a contract (estimated at $91 million) to implement its cloud productivity solution based on Microsoft Office 365, which includes messaging, calendaring, IMs and webconferencing. 


Microsoft issued a statement noting that 60,000 FAA employees and 20,000 employees at the Department of Transportation (DOT) will be involved in this initiative. 


Ironically, Google, Microsoft’s active Office 365 competitor, won a large government cloud service contract with the Department of the Interior. 


Microsoft and Google have been locked in an ongoing struggle that goes back several years. And both are actively vying for the U.S. government 2011 IT market which is estimated at $78.5 billion.


The adoption of Google Apps at the enterprise level has been increasing fast, and with Apple and others eating into the revenues it sees for software licensing, it clearly wants to make a big push to make up the difference in cloud services.


The FAA’s decision to opt for Office 365 (though implemented by CSC) is a big win, but clearly this back-and-forth is just getting started, and they’re not the only two players eying the market.


Of note, other governmental agencies that have implemented cloud services are the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the governments of California, Nebraska and Minnesota in moving to the cloud. 


Curator Comments


The public sector is not the only area where Microsoft and Google are battling. When comparing Google Apps against Microsoft Office 365 these two players are running neck and neck from a function and feature perspective. However, there are some notable differences.


For example, in order to obtain full functionality for MS Word and MS Excel, MS Office Professional must be installed on the desktop. Otherwise, the user will be somewhat limited with Microsoft’s “starter” product.


From Google App perspective, Gmail does not have folder functionality. Instead the user is able to “group” emails based on tags.


Switching topics to security, it is still a concern and we expect that it will be sometime before core government applications are moved to the cloud.


Call to Action


This curator suggests that IT Executives, regardless of industry, watch the competition between Google and Microsoft. At this point in time, the winner is not clear nor do we think that there ever will be a clear winner.


While this curator doesn’t feel that from a pure technical perspective there is any compelling reason to go with one or the other, there are other factors such as training, familiarity with either product, etc. For example, if the organization is comfortable with MS Office, then MS Office 365 might be the better choice. Obviously price is a concern as well and that will be determined by existing contracts with vendors or with the ability of the organization to work deals with either vendor.


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