Google has partnered with three other companies in an effort to migrate the agency’s entire email infrastructure to the cloud, which U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) hopes will cut their email cost by roughly half over the next five years. To be honest for this kind of work, 6.7 million dollars split between four companies isn’t a lot of money. But the truth is, this deal isn’t about money, this is about Google getting there foot in the door. If they can deliver a high quality, secure, reliable solution for GSA, then their hope is that other federal agencies will come around providing the big money contracts. Google is right though, lots of people from all over the federal government are watching to see how this turns out and the result of this could very well change the course of business for a lot of federal agencies.
To fulfill the contract, Google will work with Unisys, Tempus Nova, and Acumen Solutions to migrate the agencies 17,000 users to Google Apps For Government. Unisys will create the actual e-mail and collaboration platform based on Google Apps for Government and provide data migration and training for the new system. Tempus Nova offers tools to migrate data to Google Apps from Lotus Notes, which is currently used by the GSA, while Acumen Solutions has its own cloud-computing practice dedicated to the public sector.
The competition to win the lucrative GSA contract stretched out over six months, according to Google, as the agency considered several different proposals. Microsoft was one of the major competitors and was understandably irked by GSA’s decision. From an integration and security perspective Microsoft has a case, but this is just as much a shot across Microsoft’s bow as anything letting them know that they will no longer be the defacto solution when it comes to email, other companies can make a compelling business case
Launched this past July, Google Apps for Government offers the same cloud-based Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and other services found in Google Apps for Business. But the government edition carries with it a higher level of security as dictated by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification, which requires regular audits and reviews of information systems used by federal agencies. The Google Apps for Government suite costs $50 per user per year.
Personally, I don’t think Google Apps For Government is quite ready since it only launched this past July, but the migration isn’t scheduled to occur until sometime next year and I think that will be time enough for them to close even more ground on Microsoft’s Exchange. In the meantime, I say good for GSA.