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Google cloud-computing applications get certification for federal government use
Microsoft and other incumbents still have at least one advantage: legacy.
"I can't say that I see market dominance for Google," Peterson said. "Those companies have a very solid federal presence and in many cases they've built the infrastructure for these solutions to reside. What they've done is just build up a line of business that leverages all of their core strengths."
As vice president of Microsoft's federal division, Curt Kolcun estimates his company's Exchange software is used for about 90 percent of federal government e-mail.
Microsoft is also pursuing FISMA certification for cloud-based software packages but has yet to complete the process.
"I don't put any weight in the fact they attained it first," Kolcun said, noting that Microsoft has been in the federal market since 1984.
Still, should Google win the GSA or another contract, that could prove critical to its future, Peterson said, because other agencies are likely to watch and see if the Internet giant can deliver successfully. That may be more of a catalyst than the certification itself.
"I think the market and time will tell," she said.