Microsoft contests Iowa's plans to adopt Google cloud services

Microsoft files a law suit claiming its cloud products were overlooked in the process of moving systems of the US state of Iowa to the cloud

Microsoft is taking legal action against the US state of Iowa, claiming it unfairly awarded a $7m cloud computing contract to a Google Apps partner.

The procurement relates to the provision of a cloud-based business productivity offering to 23,500 users in Iowa’s agencies, commissions and boards. 

Google Apps partner Tempus Nova was awarded the deal in September 2014, despite competition from six other bidders including Microsoft, according to a law suit filed by the supplier

The software giant claims the decision contravenes the state’s procurement laws about using “fair, open and objective” selection processes when seeking suppliers whose services represent value for money.

The supplier also claims Tempus Nova’s proposition failed to meet the Mandatory Requirements set out in the original Request for Proposal, and that it gave inaccurate responses to some of the questions featured in it.

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Microsoft contests criterion judgement

“Iowa issued the Notice of Intent to Award the contract to Tempus Nova even though its proposal failed to meet critical mandatory requirements,” states the Microsoft suit.

Microsoft claims the use of Google’s technology will undermine the security of data stored in Iowa’s IT system and impair its ability to respond to state litigation.

Details of the legal spat came to light after Microsoft filed the suit on Thursday 19 March with Iowa’s district court, having previously contested the outcome of the procurement in January 2015.

According to the document, Microsoft missed out on the deal on “Supplier Competency” grounds, despite its track record in delivering similar systems to 500 state, local and federal agencies.

“Iowa refused even to evaluate Microsoft’s proposal based on its ‘failure’ to meet the Supplier Competency Requirement, even though state employees involved in the process believed Microsoft was a responsible bidder,” the document continued.  

Echoes of Google lawsuit

Microsoft is petitioning for a reversal of the state’s decision and seeking judicial relief.

The case echoes an earlier legal spat between Microsoft and Google around the delivery of cloud-based collaboration and communication services to 88,000 users in the US Department of the Interior (DoI).

In this case, the contract – worth $49.3m over five years – was initially awarded to Microsoft in 2010, before Google and its partner Onix Networking filed a lawsuit to prevent it proceeding. Similar to the Iowa state case, Google claimed its cloud offerings had been unfairly overlooked during the procurement process.

After much legal wrangling, the Microsoft deal was overturned and Google and Onix ended up securing a similar contract with the DoI worth $34.9m, spanning seven years in May 2012. 

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