Archive for July, 2010

Google & Microsoft Battle to Provide Cloud Computing Services to GSA

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Cloud computing continues its inexorable march towards increased mainstream usage.  Today’s Wall Street Journal described the competition between Google and Microsoft to become the cloud e-mail provider for the US General Services Administration (GSA), the agency which oversees government procurement and which manages federal property.  This migration of the GSA’s 15,000 employee e-mail accounts (currently on Lotus Notes) will influence both private sector and public sector computing.

One does not typically think of most governmental agencies (excluding the research/scientific laboratories) as early adopters of information technology. So GSA’s position may point out how widely embraced cloud computing concepts have become.  Indeed, (as pointed out in one of my previous posts), the GSA already has a dedicated website ( which sings the merits of cloud-based computing.

This is just one of many initiatives which have sprung up during the tenure of Vivek Kundra, the United States’ first Chief Information Officer.  These US CIO initiatives (such as a federal IT dashboard) have been launched to  address Kundra’s 5 stated priorities: (1) Open and transparent government, (2) Lowering the cost of government, (3) Cyber-security, (4)Participatory democracy and (5) Innovation.  Indeed, many other governments around the globe are moving rapidly to embrace the benefits of these new information technologies (as shown in the G-Cloud initiative detailed in the Digital Britain Report).

Cloud computing still has challenges to address.  For example, security is always a key concern for externally-hosted computing and data.  “Wins” on this front include the GSA’s certification that Gmail and Google Apps meet GSA security requirements.  (Microsoft is apparently close to receiving GSA security certification for its web-based version of Exchange.)  “Setbacks” include last week’s missed deadline by Google re: security concerns for the email migration of Los Angeles’ 34,000 employees.

Setbacks notwithstanding, cloud computing will continue to become more mainstream in business and governmental usage around the globe.


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