Judge Blocks Gov't From Upgrading Email System To Microsoft In Google Lawsuit

from the suing-the-government dept

Back in November, we were one of the first to report that Google had sued the US government after the Department of the Interior had put out a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for an upgraded email system that stated upfront that the solution had to be based on Microsoft. Google, who had been talking to the Interior Department about using its own solution, had received promises that the RFQ would not be biased towards Microsoft -- and thus were shocked when it wasn't just biased towards Microsoft, but restricted only to Microsoft.

In the first phase of the lawsuit, it appears that Google has made a compelling enough case that the judge has issued an injunction, preventing the DOI from moving forward with the email upgrade. The LA Times headline and opening graf is a bit hyperbolic concerning this "victory." Google certainly hasn't won the lawsuit, and it's hardly a "major victory" at this point, but it at least suggests that the judge finds Google's basic claims credible. DOI can try to rewrite its RFQ to get out of the lawsuit or it can protest the injunction and the lawsuit will continue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:16am

    About Time

    Government (local, State, Federal) should consider alternatives to Microsoft, especially LINUX. Most people seldom use features beyond word processing and spreadsheets.

    In the era of huge deficit spending free software should be considered a viable option.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:20am

    Re: About Time

    And there would only be a minor need for training.

    Why is it that the government of the supposedly free nation is so bad at looking at all the options?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:25am

    Sounds to me like someone should open an investigation into potential conflicts of interest. Why was the RFQ written focused on Microsoft?

     

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  4.  
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    Joe K (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Many government systems are sold on MS

    I work a branch of NIH. They seems to be sold on the idea of Microsoft. Some time back, there was a mandate (I think at the DHHS level) to consolidate everything into Active Directory. Unfortunately, the admins are clueless that this left out all of the non-MS systems. Now they are starting to use add-on software, like Centrify, to proceed with this dumb idea. I see all sorts of trouble ahead for people like me who work in an MS-free office.

    If it were up to me, I would BAN any Microsoft systems related to email. Don't people realize that MS email products are the major computer virus vector?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    bosconet (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:37am

    No conspiracy, just lazy

    IN my experience working with Federal agencies I can tell you that they are VERY Mcrosoft centric. This means that they are inclined to adopt an MS solution because $$$ is rarely an issue and it is easy because it is what they know. This goes not only for end users but also for the system administrators.

    My only concern about moving a Federal agency's email to a Google solution would be the potential for malicious outsiders to somehow more easily gain access to it from outside the agency network. Now that being said I don't think it is the sole reason to not look at Google but it should be taken into consideration. (As should the weaknesses of an MS solution).

     

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  6.  
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    abc gum, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:40am

    Re: No conspiracy, just lazy

    "My only concern about moving a Federal agency's email to a Google solution would be the potential for malicious outsiders to somehow more easily gain access to it from outside the agency network."

    Upon what is this concern based?

     

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  7.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: No conspiracy, just lazy

    "Upon what is this concern based?"

    When China hacked into G-mail? Don't know if it's valid, but it is a concern.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Re: No conspiracy, just lazy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    blah blahson, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:41am

    well, my impression was that google was trying to get the govt to move to a client that was neither gmail nor outlook express. I can't imagine the government putting all of its emails on a third-party server.

     

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  10.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No conspiracy, just lazy

    The best I know of is the three inch firewall (AKA, unplug the network cable). Not hack-proof, but no one can hack it from outside.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Re: About Time

    When I worked for the state I tried to ween people off MS office and onto open office. had half the office on Openoffice until state contract stated that all new PCs have the most up to date version of Office on them.

     

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  12.  
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    NullOp, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:07am

    RFQ?

    Someone has a friend who is a Microsoft evangelist and has poisoned the well!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Brent, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    Re: Many government systems are sold on MS

    MS Email systems are a major computer virus vector? In what way is a MS based email system ever more or less likely to pass an email with a virus then a linux (or any other flavor) one?

    And by suggesting that the government should ban a specific vendor (like MS) is basically saying you support what they are doing here, just not who they want to steer towards.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Brent, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: No conspiracy, just lazy

    As someone who has scoped a Google based solution in the past, there are several instances where Google says one thing, and does another as it relates to data. A great example is mandating where the data sits. As a government agency, you probably do not want your data to sit in a foreign country. Google says it will do this (force the data to stay in the US), but I believe (Apologies for no sources cited) that it has been shown that they do not really pay attention to where your specific mail messages sit.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    a company named sue

    Great idea, I can get more business if I just sue someone into buying my product. I'm sure other I.T managers in other major government offices will keep this in mind when they want to upgrade their email system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    Oops! Simple misunderstanding. As a tech for years with these kind of operations, I realized that the writer of the spec actually meant to say that the email system needed to work with Windows and Windows Servers. Most government agencies and corporations use Windows Servers and Windows products. Duh!@ You don't get into the land of Unix / Linux until you get into the Spy and Research data collecting agencies. Know your hack!

     

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  17.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:43am

    Re: No conspiracy, just lazy

    Considering the financial problems this country is in, I'd say $$$ is a huge issue at this point... So you're saying they're lazy, and are involved in a conspiracy to rip off taxpayers, just because they can apparently.

     

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  18.  
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    JTO (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    How is moving to Exchange considered an upgrade? I managed an Exchange server for years with no real issues. Yes, Exchange does everything, but it doesn't do any of them well.

    One of the happiest days of my IT life was when we moved to a standards-based open-source mail server. The system is more secure, reliable, and manageable, while only requiring 5% of the hardware required by Microsoft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    johnny canada, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    As punishment force the Gov to use Lotus Notes

     

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  20.  
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    Jason, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: a company named sue

    Fanboism aside, the reason that the Competition in Contracting Act exists is that our Country has a proud history of backroom deals at ridicuous expense to the taxpayers. $5000 toilets, and $500 pens come to mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    doubledeej (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:42am

    Google isn't an upgrade

    Based on my own company's experience, which has tried to use Google's mail solution, Google's solution is a serious downgrade. Lost messages, delayed delivery are the worst problems, but lesser capabilities have certainly played their part as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Re: Google isn't an upgrade

    Based on my own company's experience Exchange is a downgrade.

    Based on my own company's experience the plural of anecdote |= data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    TheStupidOne, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    that's just mean ... I have to use LN at work ... :'(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re: Many government systems are sold on MS

    Active Directory supports the LDAP standard. If you aren't using applications and systems that support authentication standards then you can't really blame MS or people who chose it. I would wonder why all these "other" systems did not support such a universal authentication store.

     

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  25.  
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    ShellMG, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Legacy and Mashups

    My husband works for the State of Michigan as an e-Learning trainer. The systems are based on Microsoft but each department, depending on state and federal regulations (aka funding), has their own customized software. A lot of it should have been phased out long ago but governments are notoriously slow for keeping up-to-date. MI just upgraded to XP a few years ago.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Many government systems are sold on MS

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    thornintheside, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

    Right thing to do

    Who would use Google for storing critical information when it's been subject to data stealing? The next big scandal ala Wikileaks will be googleleaks. Imagine making search histories public - it would devastate a number of people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Many government systems are sold on MS

    What does Google Apps support of the LDAP standard have to do with Joe K's comment?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Right thing to do

    The same people who use MS OSs'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Darryl, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:04pm

    Oh NO not Google... not an advertising company, trying to flog software !!!..

    Once company is a professional software vendor, with massive experience in the PC industry, for many many years.

    Clearly leading the field.


    The OTHER company, is an advertising company, with no depth or real experience in providing software products, support, upkeep, security and so on.

    If you want to buy a car, or 10,000 cars, are you going to buy it off 'modern motor magazing' or are you going to go to a company like GM, or Toyota, or Ford ?

    Google has no track record for the development and deployment of applications and software systems to clients.

    It is clear also that Microsoft, due to their market leadership is far more capable of the development, support and success of a large project.

    Sure googles does search ok, it does advertising even better, but search engines and advertising are not 'real' software, and google is not regestered as a company that creates and sells software as a business.

    To gain a contract like that, you not only have to meet the basic requirements of the contract, but you also have to show you're ability to do the job, from present and past experience.

    You also have to show you have the capabilities of providing the necessary level of technical support to keep the service working.

    Google does not have a good reputation in software development, support, or major application rollouts.

    MS has massive experience in those area's, and it will be a real shame if the court forces the Government to choose something that is second rate.

    It might be some of the reason why the US is in so much trouble financially right now.

    They waste money, hand over fist, with things, that for most people is a no brainer.

    I would have rejected them as well, as most would, without even thinking.

    Just saying you can deliver something, does not mean you are capable of it, and it certainly does not show you have a track record of being able to make such a project work !!.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Darryl, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Re: Right thing to do

    like everyone else in the world (except 2 or 3 fanboys), they will choose MS over Google for security, and privacy every time.

    Google has a very poor record of poor products, and in using information to make money.

    So to trust them with more information would be a risk, people trust google far less than Microsoft.

    They also know that Microsoft is a company that has massive experience in software development, and product support, and services.

    And Google, we'll does not !!

    MS is a company that creates software to make a living, and they do it very well.

    Google is a company that sell advertising to make a living, and they have not being doing software for a very long time, and they have next to no experience with the commercial software development chain.

    Again it would be like the differnece between buying a car off a known car manufacturer, like GM or buying one off someone who have only ever sold cars in the newpaper.

    They might be very good at selling cars, but they might not have a clue about how to design and build a car.

    Same with google, they do search 'ok', they do security poorly, and they do software rarly, and they support their products even less.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Darryl, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:20pm

    Re: About Time

    im sure they did consider them, but after about 2 seconds they determined that Google just does not have the experience in this area.

    Google has experience in some area's but not in commercial softare development, not in support, and certainly not in trust.

    Believe it or not, far more people actualy LIKE and TRUST products from MS, who have been there for us for 25 years.

    And its clear they strive to provide continusously improving services.

    Googles does not have that reputation, and whenever it gets a chance to gain the reputation, they fail.

    It is not goign to be hard for the court to decide that google in this case just cannot cut it. And crying to the courts will not gain them anything.

    But it will cost the US Government lots more money, and delays, which the US cannot afford..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    abc gum, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Right thing to do

    "like everyone else in the world (except 2 or 3 fanboys), they will choose MS over Google for security, and privacy every time."

    Except for myself and millions of others who run their own mail client.

    MS = security? - Please, sheesh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    abc gum, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Oh NO not Google... not an advertising company, trying to flog software !!!..

    Wow, you're really full of it - opinion that is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    buffalo, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    Most of Interior *does* use Notes, and it *is* punishment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    techinabox (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:24pm

    If Microsoft products were the secure option then the intelligence agencies would be using them but they do not because Microsoft products are not the most secure option.

    On a personal note I use Google Apps for my business and my school switched over to Google Apps while I was working in the IT department there without issue. Last I heard they were quite happy with the service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 4:05am

    Re: Re: About Time

    Googles does not have that reputation

    Excatly, Google does not have the reputation to put out utter crap formats that later versions of the same software cannot handle properly. That anyone would dare to put their valuable data into crap that needs 6000 pages to describe (OOXML) is beyond me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Many government systems are sold on MS

    Active Directory supports the LDAP standard. If you aren't using applications and systems that support authentication standards then you can't really blame MS or people who chose it.

    Active Directory supports a bastardized version of LDAP, and every time there is a patch for active directory, something gets screwed up with our SAMBA servers. I hate updating our AD server, because invariably after doing so, I am recompiling SAMBA and trying to fix something that is broken. At home, I've switched away from using Active Directory as my LDAP server, and now have clients authenticate with an OpenLDAP server. Since then, my support requirements have dropped through the floor. Wish I could do the same at work, but my boss won't allow me to switch because "nobody ever got fired for choosing Microsoft." Found that using winbind fixes a lot of these problems, but with winbind, I have an additional mechanism that can break.

    I would wonder why all these "other" systems did not support such a universal authentication store.

    Most of them do. LDAP is pretty common, and most tools out there support some sort of LDAP authentication. My mail servers all authenticate against LDAP, since I have a fair amount of virtual users I don't want to create local accounts for. Dovecot, courier, and postfix all support LDAP authentication, as well as postgres/mysql authentication.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Gopesh Kapoor (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 7:13am

    Uh, and exactly how is moving from "Microsoft" to "Google" an "upgrade"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    brian, May 27th, 2011 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    We already are stuck using Lotus Notes. Horrible program.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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