Of all the firms listed in the initial tranche of G-Cloud CloudStore catalogue entrants, Microsoft and Google could both have been expected to be present. But does this mean a repetition of US hostilities in the UK public sector?
Microsoft picked up accreditation in all four lots in the catalogue: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Cloud consulting services. In practical terms that means users can buy from a package of public Cloud services including Windows Azure, Office 365, CRM Online and Microsoft Consulting Services.
Google is is listed as Google Ireland Ltd and its products do not include the government-flavour apps promoted in the US,
but instead the standard Google Apps for Business. Google is also present with Google Message Discovery, Chrome OS, Google Maps API Premier and Google Earth Builder.
In the US, Microsoft has been engaged in a ferocious battle with Google
over which one will control the high ground of federal computing in the Cloud. Microsoft has accused Google of lying over its certification claims for its government apps, while Google has in the past taken legal action against US government agencies for allegedly only considering Microsoft offerings.
It’s a good win for Microsoft whose relationship with the UK public sector has been a roller coaster of late. Last year the government scrapped an enterprise agreement (EA) software licensing deal with Microsoft, the biggest deal of its kind in the world.
The framework agreement was set to run for three years through Microsoft large account resellers Softcat, Trustmarque and Phoenix Software. The value of the three year deal had already been reduced from the original £80 million to just £21 million.
Microsoft has been involved heavily in shaping the G-Cloud process from the beginning. It took part in the original G-Cloud consultation programme facilitated by Intellect, while Microsoft UK’s Chief Security Advisor, Stuart Aston was selected as the Industry Co-Lead on the G-Cloud Information Assurance Workstream.
Microsoft partners are also involved in the Framework, most notably the Basingstoke-based SME Solidsoft which has built CloudStore on Microsoft’s Windows Azure. This is a significant coup for Microsoft – providing the underlying platform upon which the crucial CloudStore has been developed and hosted.
There has been some controversy in some quarters of the media over Google's supposed links with David Cameron - who spoke at firm's 2006 Zeitgeist conference. It's all very nebulous of course. Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister's chief strategist and closest political adviser, is married to Rachel Whetstone, vice-president of global communications and public policy at Google while Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, travelled to Bournemouth to address the Conservative Party conference.
But it's enough for some critics to complain. Prior to the last election, Cameron floated the idea of Cloud Computing apps - such as those from Google and
Microsoft - as an alternative to costly ICT debacles such as the NHS National Programme, his comments were greeted with howls of anguish from the likes of the Daily Mail which now has Google on its list of things that we all need to be outraged about
As purchasing begins from the CloudStore it will be interesting to see how any parallels with the US federal computing market shape up. Will there be the same level of hostility between the two?