The fight to bid for a Cloud Contract, Google vs Microsoft

Google Inc & Onix Neworking Corporation filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on October 29th with the U.S Court of Federal Claims in 2010. In the DOI’s RFQ they specified they required messaging solution/requirements for 88,000 users throughout the agency. From my understanding this should support calendars and collaboration and also meet the required privacy and security standards for government use.

Aparently, before the RFQ was released, Google met with the DOI and described the Google Apps solution. The problem related to this issue was the fact that the RFQ described background information which was directly related to BPOS-Federal Suite were critical to the success of the solution and the DOI standard. The background information in the RFQ directly supported Microsoft’s framework. Microsoft announced the BPOS-Federal Suite in February 2010. The suite is rated to improve the cloud computing security model to provide two-factor authentication and improved encryption technologies which also meets the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification.

On the 5th of January 2010 the court ruled in favour of Google’s lawsuit. Google has made complaints against Microsoft where they have been stopped from bidding on government contracts in the past.

Google did make several attempts to build a relationship with the DOI, several months prior to the RFQ process. I’m not sure if the recent lawsuit is the correct way of building a relationship with the DOI, but this certainly raises questions as to why Google’s solutions were discarded during the process. I’m sure this is not the final battle, I’ll keep updated posts on this subject in the future.

From Cloud to Cloud: WinWire Technologies

I’ve always wondered how many organizations have considered moving to the cloud, moved to the cloud and back again but I’m still researching to find the right numbers. Out of personal interest I came across a company which moved from one cloud service provider to another. I recently came across a case study where WinWire Technologies had moved from Google Apps to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. There are a number of questions raised when this type of migration occurs, but usually these could just lead down to a few significant and important areas:

  • Integration Issues
  • Performance Issues
  • Service Outage problems
  • Cost
  • Maturity of the service providers solution
  • Contractual Issues
  • Regulations
  • Data Corruption

After reading the case study it was very clear that one of the main issues was integration. Specifically, WinWire wanted integration with Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint which unfortunately was an issue with utilizing Google Apps. I was surprised to read the fact that they had some difficulty with formatting when moving documents Microsoft Office Applications and SharePoint to GMail, but this would be a useful test during a pilot of the solution.

The case study can be reviewed here

I will be writing more on considerations a business should take when moving to the cloud in future posts.

Cloud Computing, The Basics

When it comes to ‘ Cloud Computing’ there are a few acronyms which are referenced in most articles which I will explain in my first official blog about cloud computing basics. The main acronyms are described below.

SaaS (Software as a Service): A Service provided by a vendor which is typcially provided as a packaged solution to multiple customers. The service is usually provided, but not limited to, through a web browser. The vendor provides the service over the internet and is managed and maintained by the vendor. The customer does not need to worry about upgrades, patching and the security architecture of the service. Examples of SaaS include Facebook, Microsoft Online and Google Apps. SaaS has been around for a number of years.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): Infrastructure as a Service is a service model where a company would outsource the servers, network and storage to a service provider. All the hardware is owned and managed by the service provider and the resources are provided over the internet. The service provider can also provide the operating system, messaging and databases. The company obtaining the services would usually pay on a transaction or per use basis. Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services AWS), Microsoft Hyper-V Private Cloud, Apples iWork.com and IBM’s Blue cloud services. Utilizing IaaS effectively allows the architecture of a dynamic datacenter which can be flexible to a organizations requirements.

PaaS (Platform as a Service): Platform as a Service is a architecture framwork that allows a complete development platform to build and assemble solutions, similar to SaaS, but with development tools for customization. The underlying Operating System and Hardware is still provided by the service provider. PaaS offers the ability to run full rich applications over the internet offered as a utility computing. The model is still usually provided on a pay per use or on a subscription basis. Rich internet applications can be developed by businesses utilizing a rhobust platform with faster application delivery times. PaaS includes modules which can be integrated to build the applications necessary for the business. Examples of PaaS include Microsoft Azure, Salesforce.com, Rollbase, Google App Engine and BungeeConnect.

Cloudstream An integration template which provides the required nuts and bolts to secure, provide governance and manage the communication between two services at the Application Programming Interface (API). The integration can be enterprise to cloud and cloud to cloud. The cloudstream captures configuration information for cloud brokers and packages the configuration information to connect the endpoints together. CloudStream will become the standard for integration across the cloud and enterprise. For on premise systems, appliances/software solutions can help with cloud integration such as the  Vordel Cloud Service Broker, Forum Sentry SOA Security Gateway .Layer 7 CloudSpan Products, Ping Federate Connectors and Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services 2.0.

Cloud Computing Contracts

I recently came across this article which includes a link to a research paper funded by Microsoft. The research paper specifically reviewed several Cloud vendors T&C’s to identify the legal impact to organizations. I highly recommend reading the post and at least the conclusion of the research paper to understand the issues which could potenitally affect your business.

Cloud Computing Journal article: http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/1629419

Direct link to the research paper: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1662374