Microsoft, Google Making Federal Cloud Moves

There’s high-level support for cloud computing in the government space so, unsurprisingly, vendors are following the money. The latest to do so is Microsoft. The company this week rolled out a federal-specific version of its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).  And you can bet Google and Amazon Web Services will be making some federal cloud moves as well. Here are some of the details and implications.

Let's start with Microsoft. The federal-specific version of BPOS, as does its commercial counterpart, offers Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online. The difference: Microsoft hosts its federal service on dedicated infrastructure in secured facilities to meet the government’s security requirements. Microsoft joins a number of other companies looking for government business. Here’s a quick, and by no means exhaustive, overview of the competitive landscape.

Emerging options include...

SaaS/PaaS:

In the software-as-a-service/platform-as-a-service category, the players include  Google and Salesforce.com as well as Microsoft.

Google was quick to land on the General Services Administration’s Apps.gov portal, which launched last September as a governmentwide source for cloud applications. Google Apps Premier Edition and Maps API Premier are among the products available. On the GSA vehicle, Google sells through authorized resellers such as Onix Networking and Daston Corp.

Google aims to launch a government cloud in a dedicated environment, announcing that intention in 2009. At the time, Google said the government cloud would go online sometime in 2010.

Salesforce.com takes a partnering approach in providing federal cloud applications.  The company teams with Carahsoft Technology Corp. on Apps.gov. Salesforce.com recently partnered with Acumen Solutions on a Department of Health and Human Services pact.

Overall, Salesforce.com counts the Army, NASA, and State Department among its federal customers.

Infrastructure as a Service

Terremark Worldwide is among the vendors most visibly pursuing government deals in the cloud-based infrastructure. Company officials have cited the federal sector as a key market and point to such customers as USA.gov, the federal government’s official portal.

The company holds its own GSA Schedule 70 schedule, which lets it sell directly to federal customers. As for partnering, the company last year entered an alliance with long-time government integrator CSC. The deal enables CSC to offer Terremark’s cloud computer services to government customers.

CSC, in turn, has a global reseller agreement with Microsoft for BPOS.

Savvis Inc., meanwhile, is positioned to take on government cloud business. Savvis Federal Systems holds a GSA Schedule 70 schedule and helped power the launch of Apps.gov, playing a hosting role. Savvis’ GSA contract covers hosting as well as network, security and professional services.

Amazon Web Services is also sniffing around the government sector, as recent job postings attest. In a recent posting, the company is seeking a business development manager for the federal market. The position will involve building “mind share and broad use of Amazon’s utility computing web services (Amazon S3, Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon RDS, etc.).”

While the cloud is subject to a good deal of hype these days, federal officials appear to take it seriously. We’ll see in the next few months whether more agencies adopt the cloud and which cloud competitors will nail down the business.
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