Google Wins Federal Ruling Against Microsoft in Cloud Computing Deployment

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 06, 2011

It was all the way back in 2009 that Google CEO Eric Schmidt declared that enterprises represented a "huge opportunity for the management team [at Google] and for me personally," pronouncing them his company's "next big-billion dollar opportunity." Schmidt wasn't kidding around, and as Chrome OS advances, Android spreads out, and Google Apps get taken more seriously, those who doubted that Google could make a dent in Microsoft's two-fisted control of enterprise computing infrastructures are taking the challenge more seriously.

Now, Google has won a preliminary injunction in court that orders the U.S. Department of the Interior--no small enterprise--to shift its gears on a plan to deploy a Microsoft-centric cloud computing infrastructure. This is more evidence that it is in the cloud where Google sees possible advantages over Microsoft.

Microsoft, of course, has aggressively pursued enterprises and government organizations with its Azure cloud computing platform and CEO Steve Ballmer has been singing the praises of the cloud for a long time now. Microsoft, though, doesn't have the same level of acceptance for applications that live in the cloud that Google now has with Google Apps. It's in the cloud that the two companies will compete most fiercely for the future of enterprise computing, where Microsoft remains very dominant.

In the preliminary injunction in favor of Google and against Microsoft regarding the U.S. Department of the Interior, Judge Susan Braden of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims declared that the department's proposed adoption of Microsoft's suite of online productivity tools did not include "proper justification or appropriate approvals." Specifically, she said, "The failure to list Google's repeated express interest in this procurement cannot be explained as an oversight."

Microsoft, of course, has a long history of squaring off with regulatory and government agencies all around the world over issues like this--and not just in the U.S. The European Commission, for example, has imposed strict rules on how Microsoft pursues browser competition in Europe.

Can Google gain ground on Microsoft in winning over enterprises by pursuing legal rulings that call for consideration of its cloud computing tools in cases where enterprises have considered Microsoft's? If you look at Microsoft's history, it has tended to win these kinds of skirmishes. All the way back in the late 1980s, companies like Borland and Oracle were pressuring enterprises and the government to play fair, but Microsoft owns 90 percent of business desktops with its productivity applications.

In the cloud, things could possibly be different, though. Whether they will be depends on a lot of sticky issues. Microsoft is much more experienced at supporting enterprises than Google is, for example, and understands the byzantine procurement processes that enterprises often go through.

Google has pursued cloud computing goals doggedly, though, and Gmail, Google Apps and other tools are parts of many workers' days. In all likelihood, the latest federal ruling that favors Google won't be the last.