Microsoft vs. Google war of words: Effective use of time?

Another day, another public Microsoft vs. Google skirmish. This latest spat is over FISMA. Isn't there a back alley somewhere where this can be settled?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Another day, another public Microsoft vs. Google skirmish. Isn't there a back alley somewhere where this can be settled?

On Monday, David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, launched a blog post questioning Google Apps' security cred. At issue is whether Google Apps for Government is compliant under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

Indeed, the stakes are high and Google and Microsoft have been jousting in court of state contracts and an level competitive playing field. Howard writes:

Last year, the Department of the Interior selected Microsoft offerings for its new cloud-based email system. In October, Google responded by suing the Government. As a result, the work of engineers and IT professionals was replaced, at least temporarily, by filings by lawyers. This meant significant delay for the Department of the Interior, which was trying to save millions of dollars and upgrade the email services for its 88,000 employees. Google announced its lawsuit with a proclamation of support for “open competition.” It then touted the security benefits of Google Apps for Government. Google filed a motion for a preliminary injunction telling the court three times in a single document (see pages 18, 29, & 37), that Google Apps for Government is certified under FISMA.

Then Howard notes that the Department of Justice said that Google doesn't have FISMA certification. Google Apps Premier has the FISMA certification, but Google Apps for Government doesn't (the application is in process). One point worth noting: FISMA isn't a certification. It is a law.

Google said in a statement via CNet News that:

Google Apps received a FISMA security authorization from the General Services Administration in July 2010. Google Apps for Government is the same system with enhanced security controls that go beyond FISMA requirements.

Howard comes back with:

Google can’t be under the misimpression that FISMA certification for Google Apps Premier also covers Google Apps for Government. If that were the case, then why did Google, according to the attachments in the DOJ brief, decide to file a separate FISMA application for Google Apps for Government?

But Google noted that it has not filed a separate FISMA application for Google Apps for Government. Also see Mary Jo Foley: Microsoft and Google: Who's the most FISMA-compliant of them all?

This FISMA fight is just one more data point that the Microsoft-Google relationship is becoming increasingly hostile.

For those that cover tech sports, these skirmishes can be mildly entertaining. For the real IT buyers, the Microsoft-Google catfights make both sides look big and whiny. The biggest risk here is that customers tune both parties out as a case of "monopoly A said, monopoly B said."

Editorial standards