Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps face off in DoD contract

Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps face off in DoD contract

Summary: Microsoft and Google are both approved to sell 50,000 seats of their respective cloud-office offerings into the U.S. Department of Defense.


The U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) has approved for purchase 50,000 seats each Microsoft's and Google's respective cloud-office offerings.

Microsoft acknowledged the deal in an October 21 blog post. I asked Google officials about the deal and have yet to hear back.

Update: A Google spokesperson also acknowledged that Google was awarded 50,000 seats as part of the deal.


Neither Microsoft (along with its bidding partner Dell) nor Google is actually getting paid for any of these seats until they start selling them into commands. Today's announcement is the commencement of yet another contest between the two office-service rivals.

Any U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) service or agency can go with Office 365 or Google Apps under this new Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) without any additional competition required. Under terms of the deal, from what I've heard from my contacts, Microsoft and Google both can sell into different commands in varying amounts, up to 50,000 seats each. 

I believe Microsoft will be fielding its Office 365 for Government SKU — the one which allows government agencies to deploy Office 365 in a controlled, locked-down environment — as its entry in this competition.

A new blog post by Microsoft's Curt Kolcun, Vice President of U.S. Public Sector, doesn't specify which Office 365 SKU Microsoft is using. Instead, it notes that Microsoft will be fielding "Cloud Services, including e-mail and calendaring, Office Web Apps, unified capabilities like Microsoft Lync, and collaboration tools like SharePoint."

Google is going to be pitching Google Apps for Government, a Google spokesperson confirmed, via the following statement:

"The U.S. Army will provide Google Apps for Government to an initial group of 50,000 Army and Department of Defense personnel. This effort is part of the U.S. Army's program to use commercial cloud services to improve collaboration, information sharing and mobile access for the men and women who serve our country. We look forward to working closely with the Army on this project."

Microsoft recently announced that Lync 2013 has been Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) certified, allowing DoD organizations to connect Lync 2013 to the DoD’s information network. 

Microsoft also recently announced that Windows Azure was granted a Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Joint Authorization Board (JAB). According to Microsoft, Azure is the first public cloud platform to receive a JAB P-ATO. Microsoft is developing an Azure for Government SKU, as well, codenamed "Fairfax." 

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, Google, Government, Microsoft, Unified Comms


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Bhahahaha

    Google 'apps' are a joke, not good for anything serious. Its a matter of time that Office 365 will 'grab' Google 'seats'.
    • have you seen ...

      ... the NSA Powerpoint presentations Snowden leaked? Do you still think those people are serious ? I am sure Office will make the race -but mainly because DoD stuff is to lame to learn something new - let alone something really new and of course they do not have to care about how much taxpayer money they throw at MS.
      • Well Maybe

        It's funny that people should only have to learn something new with a non-Microsoft product. If Microsoft changes any products, such as Office, even slightly people get in an uproar over having to learn a new feature or process. So, why is it everyone is so quick to tell people to learn something new as it relates to a non-MS product. That being said, each agency will make it's own choice and nothing else you listed has a thing to do with Microsoft. So, Snowden used Powerpoint? He could have just as easily used open office, something from Google, an Adobe product, or word perfect; then just saved into as a PDF or some other format. And none of this as anything to do with taxpaper money. Either way it goes both Microsoft or Google are going to get paid something. And we don't know what big discount Microsoft is offering the DoD. And even if it is taxpayer money, it's not like they voted for one and DoD went with the other. If most people could vote, they would probably vote for Office.
    • hmmm

      Both systems have their strong and weak points but I would say that Google is ahead of the game for Cloud and mobile systems. The administrative policies for managing Android and Chrome devices are going to be essential for securing devices in this new generation of mobile computing. Google's development platform is also strong but a pain in the neck to learn especially if you've been a VB programmer for years.
  • Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps face off in DoD contract

    I hope the DoD chooses Microsoft Office 365. Not just because its better but because it will tick off Google and they will have a hissy fit just like the last time this happened.
  • As a corp user

    who has evaluated both, I can't even fathom why someone would pick Google apps over Office 365. I know the govt has different requirements, but Lync alone is worth the cost of Office365.
    • and I cannot fathom

      why anyone would allow windows or anything that runs on it inside a corporate network, unless they don't give a damn about security, privacy, lowering TCO and back doors.
      • Then that's why you can't fathom it, GrabBoyd

        from your post you obviously don't understand much of anything related to software, IMHO.
        • And you don't understand government purchases either.

          A "provisional authority to operate" doesn't mean it even works. It means that some bureaucrat has signed off on it, without the software actually being tested. USUALLY it means it will be put under test, but not actual use.

          You don't understand much in the way of security or software expenses. Or even DoD procedures.
      • Security

        So, you're saying that Google Doc is the most secured product out there?
        • more like what I AM saying

          m$ products/services are the LEAST SECURE. Nothing to do with google or anyone else.'

          For every dollar that corporations spend on m$ and clique ( and a lot of it it is), they spend $10 on securing it. It is not that there are fewer viruses, worms etc out there- its that businesses spend a tremendous amount of money warding them off of m$ platforms, without which spending, deploying m$ platforms is impossible.
          • hyperbole

            By your description, Google's handling of android must be completely atrocious. What? Off-topic? So is bashing all Microsoft products. If Microsoft products were that insecure, I think it would be comical to see them try and sell to thousands of companies who depend on security in their transactions every day..
            Luke Skywalker
          • Actually, that is partly why Windows lost the financial market.

            Not fast enough, not secure enough, not flexible enough.

            They also booted it out of the ISS for the same reasons.

            And other places are booting it due to the expense.
          • jessepollard: You couldn' be farther from the truth, since,

            according to the latest MS quarterly report, they've been gaining in the corporate side of things, and big time. Yeah, MS is raising some of their prices, but they've also gained a lot of business users.

            So, you are claiming the complete opposite of the facts. Most people here already know that, your version of the facts is the complete opposite of the real facts. So, why not stop the nonsense and stupidity?
    • how much

      does MS charge the DoD per seat (Lync, Share point inculded) in a locked down env.?
      • Probably about the same it charges an enterprise

        For equivalent functionality.

        The "locked down" aspect is significant, but my guess is that the idea is that they hope to sell enough government seats to make the cost of the locked-down-ed-ness inconsequential.

        The government is a *huge* customer to land. And, it's a *huge* customer to keep out of your competitor's win list.
        • The last time I saw the cost per seat for a government installation

          was $3,500 per seat, per year.

          Now that includes the cost of support from the vendor (Microsoft), plus all the other vendors trying to keep it secure, and the vendors for any third party required software, PLUS all the internal help desk support necessary to try and keep the employees working.

          A bit expensive for a TCO...
          • Seriously???

            You're pulling this out of somewhere I won't venture. We've got 45K covered enterprise seats, full software license including upgrades for OS, Office Pro w/ lync and cloud options, server CALs, 1st tier support, etc. comes to approx $287 per seat per year. About $1 per work day per professional. At our all up fully burdened average professional wage and benny cost this is absolutely nothing - about a minutes worth of daily employee compensation.

            If you don't think other solutions also require security, firewalls, backup, recovery, management, desktop hardware, servers, network infrastructure, etc you're mistaken. And Microsoft tools like System Center suite to lock down, management/auth/audit through AD, software distribution / control, image management, etc help us materially drive down support costs per user. And we have many competitive training options - online, classes, documentation, etc. Of course all other solutions never require support or training.....

            The old Gartner Group $3500 per seat per year number was always suspect when they came up with it in the late 80's. Much better enterprise tools, software deploy/manage/support options, and certainly less expensive longer lasting desktop/laptop hardware today. And you can be sure that the Government has a "most favored nation" pricing clause in their license agreements.
    • A bake-off is often appropriate

      However, I'm not sure how it's going to work. A single user will see only one of the two solutions. Hopefully the DoD has set up some good measurements and metrics, so at the end of the bake-off a rational decision can be made.

      I agree, Lync is a great solution to a lot of problems. I wish that the company that I work at now used it for more than just an IM tool.
    • As an education user

      And I have evaluated both for the last 4 years (current MS product and previous as well as Google Apps) and for an education environment, I can't imagine why anyone would go with the MS product. Google Apps beats it hands-down. In the end, with the back-end hardware requirements that come with the MS products, it is cheaper overall to go with the platform-independent product that Google provides. Please don't reply with "MS intends to make 360 full platform independent" because we have to deal with the hear-and-now, not the future. I'm not saying the MS product doesn't have it's place, particularly among the users who are slow to or refuse to learn something new, but if you really have used both extensively and administered both extensively, then in the education and day-to-day working environment, Google Apps is the one that wins hands-down.