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Google, Microsoft in '2-horse race' for Government cloud contracts

Kenneth Corbin | Sept. 5, 2013
As tech behemoths Google and Microsoft try to win over public-sector CIOs with their cloud-based productivity suites, government agencies eye cost savings and an increase in productivity and collaboration.

Herman points out that those training activities carry a labor cost that CIOs should consider when estimating the expense of a cloud migration.

"I don't have to train people to use Microsoft Office," he says.

Austin puts it another way: "Nobody ever got fired for buying from Microsoft."

Security and Privacy in the Cloud Are Always Part of the Discussion
In the context of government procurement, it's impossible to have a discussion about the cloud without addressing the security concerns.

"Each and every discussion that we have, there's a discussion around security and privacy," Kolcun says.

But as government buyers warm to the cloud generally, the kneejerk concern that storing data in a hosted environment invites extra risk has given way to a more nuanced understanding that the public, private and hybrid models carry their own security propositions, and that security in the cloud, as in a data center, is only as good as the configuration of safeguards and defenses.

That suggests that security in the cloud is not the bogeyman it once was, particularly as the federal government has been standardizing its security reviews through the FedRAMP certification program.

Google's Mihalchik allows that "security is always a part of the discussion," but it is hardly the insurmountable obstacle that, in the minds of many within the government, it once was.

"Frankly, security is not the question that's on customers' minds at this point, again because it is more widely understood," he says.

Google, Microsoft and every other cloud vendor looking to do business with public-sector customers insist that their security assurances are at least as good as — if not better than — their clients' posture with a suite of conventional applications.

"The cloud can be enormously more secure," Herman says, provided that the deployment carries the appropriate permissions and other security considerations. At the same time, the transition to a cloud-based architecture can be nerve-wracking, particularly for an agency's operations and risk officer, a nontechnical employee who Herman points out "has a different view of the cloud than the CIO does."

"It's about each agency and their risk in those implementations," says Kolcun. "Each and every discussion that we have, there's a discussion around security and privacy."

 

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