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Google Wins Injunction Against Agency Using Microsoft Cloud 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the knocked-out-of-the-sky dept.
jfruhlinger writes "A judge has granted an injunction stopping the US Department of the Interior from moving forward with the adoption of Microsoft's cloud services. The injunction was sought by Google, which of course has its own suite of cloud offerings. Google claimed that the Interior Dept. failed to consider other options as required."
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Google Wins Injunction Against Agency Using Microsoft Cloud

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  • by mykos (1627575) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @12:23AM (#34773316)
    Apparently they run the Department of the Interior like the Air Force. I remember waiting four weeks and paying $80 for three ounces of a very specific lithium grease for some of our equipment that had an extremely similar clone at Lowe's for $4.
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @12:53AM (#34773458)
      They are likely made from the same ingredients in the same factory, but one comes with a piece of paper certifying it meets the standards. And since that is required, it's the piece of paper that's worth $75, and the grease is identical. They don't need grease that meets some standards. They need grease that comes with a certification that it meets some standards.
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday January 06, 2011 @01:51AM (#34773722)

        They are likely made from the same ingredients in the same factory, but one comes with a piece of paper certifying it meets the standards. And since that is required, it's the piece of paper that's worth $75, and the grease is identical. They don't need grease that meets some standards. They need grease that comes with a certification that it meets some standards.

        Exactly.

        Take an airplane, for example. A screw for it could easily cost $2 or more each, when you can get 1 lb of identical screws at the hardware store for $5 or probably a few cents each. But that aircraft screw comes with a document that can trace the metal it's made of all the way to the mine and even ore batch, should it be necessary.

        That grease? Same thing. Tracability sometimes is quite important, and it costs a lot of money to maintain that paper trail...

        • That grease? Same thing. Tracability sometimes is quite important, and it costs a lot of money to maintain that paper trail.

          Really? Competent businesses aren't keeping these records (electronically) as part of their normal supply chain process? That's somewhat sad to hear the government needs to pay extra for them to keep their own proper records that they'd use in day-to-day quality control.

          • by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @03:22AM (#34774036)
            BAHAHAHAHA. I tried to get information about a laptop I purchased from BestBuy (3-4 months after purchase) and they couldn't even tell me i'd purchased it there. This was after giving them the date on my receipt (which i had in hand) and the serial number of the laptop. I then tried Acer directly, THEY couldn't even tell me which video card my laptop came with, even after giving them a serial and model number.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              They have this data somewhere. They could tell you if they really cared. But we're talking about Best Buy and Acer here, and they don't, so they won't.

            • THEY couldn't even tell me which video card my laptop came with, even after giving them a serial and model number.

              I had this problem several years back with an HP I bought...

              Was having trouble with the AGP, did some research, and found that there were updated drivers available. But nobody could tell me what was on my motherboard.

              I called up HP, gave them every number that was on the machine, and they still couldn't tell me. There were three different motherboards that went into my particular model, and they had absolutely no idea which it might be.

              These days I run into the same thing very routinely with Dell machines

              • by Zakabog (603757)

                I had this problem several years back with an HP I bought...

                Was having trouble with the AGP, did some research, and found that there were updated drivers available. But nobody could tell me what was on my motherboard.

                Look harder next time. [hp.com] Put in your serial number and it'll tell you every part in your system.

                These days I run into the same thing very routinely with Dell machines. Two different machines built to the same specifications might wind up with significantly different hardware inside.

                Same thing with Dell. [dell.com] Put in your express service code, then click "Original System Configuration." The information is out there you just need to look.

                • Look harder next time. Put in your serial number and it'll tell you every part in your system.

                  Either that web page didn't exist at the time, or the folks at HP didn't know about it.

                  Same thing with Dell. Put in your express service code, then click "Original System Configuration." The information is out there you just need to look.

                  Yup. Like I said - At least it isn't too hard to figure out which one is right these days.

                  • Look harder next time. Put in your serial number and it'll tell you every part in your system.

                    Either that web page didn't exist at the time, or the folks at HP didn't know about it.

                    Same thing with Dell. Put in your express service code, then click "Original System Configuration." The information is out there you just need to look.

                    Yup. Like I said - At least it isn't too hard to figure out which one is right these days.

                    Those pages have existed for at *least* 7 years, because I recall using them during my fall semester in 2003 while working for the school's computer services group

                    • Look harder next time. Put in your serial number and it'll tell you every part in your system.

                      Either that web page didn't exist at the time, or the folks at HP didn't know about it.

                      Those pages have existed for at *least* 7 years, because I recall using them during my fall semester in 2003 while working for the school's computer services group

                      This would have been roughly 1999/2000ish.

                      I had a problem with an AGP card under Windows 98 and was hopeful that the upcoming release of Windows 2000 would make it work better.

                      And it is entirely possible that web page did exist at the time. But I was on dial-up back then, and the Internet was not my first source of information. I did look around HP's website, but didn't find anything terribly useful. I wound up looking up some model number printed on the motherboard itself. The information I found point

              • by Coren22 (1625475)

                Some of the problem is which Dell or HP line you are using. The consumer machines are built to be cheap, therefore they have whichever component was cheap at the time. The commercial level machines are all built the same, and often machines from the same line can use the same drivers, even years later. Dell's line is the Latitude line, they are built better, and they have a standard set of parts.

            • by Skater (41976)
              Similarly, non IT story: I bought a special air conditioner/furnace from a company a number of years back. A year or two later it developed a problem - the compressor died. I asked the company I bought it from about the warranty and they insisted I didn't buy it from them. I showed them the receipt, and they said they did a track on the serial number and found it had been sold to some other shop. I didn't know what to tell them - I only ever dealt with one company, because our options were extremely li
          • As your Username says, TooMuchToDo. I don't want to pay companies to push that much paper around on desks for everything that I buy. It's important in some instances and needless in other instances.

            I don't mean literally 'paper on desks' mind you. Any form of recordkeeping has a cost associated with it. Furthermore, you can lose the important data in a sea of irrelevant data if you retain everything.

            • I'm saying there is limited additional cost involved. You need to know that X materials came from vendors, was put into Y products, and was shipped to Z customers or resellers. This is not about extra paperwork, it's about properly accounting for what you already need to keep track of your business.

              • by Zakabog (603757)

                I've never seen a box of screws with a serial number on it or any information that makes it any more identifiable then the next box of the same brand screws. Probably because that information isn't that important. It would cost a lot of money for some big company selling screws to home depot to serialize and keep track of every box of screws they manufacture. They'd have to add another step to their manufacturing process plus they'd need a decently powerful system with a very large database that can handle

          • The issue is that when a product's paper trail is lost and it is sold to consumers all you have to do is hope there isn't a problem with that batch and you are fine. With the government you can lost your multi-million dollar contract so I am assuming they have to take more precautions and keep the data for a long time.
          • Why would I in the ordinary course of business keep that paper trail. The number of times that a business would reference that paper trail comes nowhere near justifying the cost of setting up a system to acquire and store that data. If I spend the money to acquire and keep that data trail, I will be selling screws for $2 that my competitor is selling for 2 cents (or less).
            The standard method of quality control used in industry is to do tests on randomly selected items from a given production run.
          • by s73v3r (963317)

            Why would you? If you're just making a box of wood screws for the Home Depot, it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever need or want that information. So why go to the expense of keeping it?

            On the other hand, the military (and some other applications) may not need that information either, if everything goes just fine. However, they are willing to pay to make sure that information is kept, just in case. That, and the rigerous amount of testing that those parts go through is what causes the price bump.

            • Because if you make a bad batch of product, no matter what the product is, you can be liable for the value of the product and have to cough it up if your resellers/brick and mortars decide they want the money back they fronted for said defective product.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2011 @02:46AM (#34773944)

          MIL spec tests are very stringent. In the case of lubricants (solid film) tests such as Falex pressure loads and minimum run times are critical. Different batches made with the same ingredients often yield quite different test results. The QC of mil spec lubricants cost more than the raw materials where I worked for 22 years. If the military wants to make certain its planes, and missiles, fly without critical parts seizing up or smart missiles landing a mile away because the solid film lubricant wasn't quite as durable as expected, then testing and certification is critical. Every test fluid, machine, etc all must be certified to high quality standards. You think the cheap crap at the store is the same as MIL spec materials, simply because the have the same ingredients? You are very wrong.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            You think the cheap crap at the store is the same as MIL spec materials, simply because the have the same ingredients?

            I think in many cases the product at the store is superior in every way except variability, and further that in most of those cases the minimum results are in excess of the mil-spec. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions; when you get a single nut out of its own cardboard box with bubble wrap, that's because that's what it takes to be able to ship that nut anywhere in the world and still have it arrive in spec so that it can be installed into a multi-million dollar aircraft's engine. I don't know if the

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @04:54AM (#34774340)

            As an example I've played around with DIY audio stuff and something that lots of enthusiasts like using is Vishay-Dale milspec resistors. Seems kinda silly, using milspec resistors in something like a headphone amp, until you look at their properties. You can get them with extremely tight tolerances, and with low variance over temperatures. They are very good if you want to make sure you are getting what you think you are getting over a wide range of conditions. They are also good at dealing with the unexpected. Like maybe you are worried that the power might be able to momentary exceed the resistors rating. No problem, the milspec parts deal with that, a 1/4 watt resistor can actually handle 1/2 watt with no damage, at least for a bit.

            Now you may well not need to buy milspec parts to get that, however those parts DO get you that. Their milspec resistors are above and beyond normal cheap resistors in what they are willing to certify. When the idea is hand building something with very tight tolerances (in the case of an audio amp tightly matched tolerances means the amp should have a minimal impact on the sound) it is a choice that can make sense.

            Then, speaking of tolerances and variability, even within the line there are differences. You may find that for a given type of 1/4 watt 1k resistor you can get it in 1%, 0.5% and 0.1% at an ever increasing price. They all seem to be made the same, it isn't like the 0.1% is a different design, like some of the really high precision ones. Well the deal is that when they make them, they come out different. So they test them and batch them. If you buy 1% parts, they are only guaranteeing the resistance to be between 1000 and 1010 ohms. Good enough for most uses, however if you need it tighter they sell ones that are tested to be closer to 1000 ohms and guaranteed, hence the tighter ratings. Costs more though, as many of them don't come out that perfect.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)
          An airplane is easy. Getting replacement bolts for a flameproof case is hard. When the bolt needs to be certified to have exactly the right thread, and exactly the right dimensions down to the micrometer as they are designed to bottom out during install. I also remember getting a hole drilled in an aluminum flameproof box once. It cost $450 for the hole, took 1 month, and had to be sent to the other side of the country to be done. But we got a nice piece of paper back saying it was certified flameproof.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I was stationed at Dover AFB in 1971, and if you saw all the problems with the then-new C5As, you'd understand why that piece of paper was absolutely necessary. Engines falling off the plane in flight, landing gear failing to retract, tail booms falling over (that killed a couple of guys and grounded the whole fleet for months), etc.

        For want of a nail a shoe was lost; for want of a shoe a horse was lost; for want of a horse a war was lost.

        When a hundred million dollar aircraft and its plot and crew are at s

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Trouble with specifying lube is that if it isn't mil-spec it might be ChiCom mystery goo that eats bearings. In many cases a Suitable Substitute would do.

      Semi-OT, and note the choice of uniforms:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnPu-kk_eOA [youtube.com]

    • Apparently they run the Department of the Interior like the Air Force. I remember waiting four weeks and paying $80 for three ounces of a very specific lithium grease for some of our equipment that had an extremely similar clone at Lowe's for $4.

      An "extremely similar clone" is often not a good replacement - equipment may be designed to certain specs that seemingly similar, but much cheaper, parts don't meet and using them may result in unexpected or catastrophic results. I could buy 10 cent bolts and nuts, or various lubricants, at Lowes that look just like the ones used on our reactor, but there is no assurance they would work properly, unlike the much more expensive ones in the supply system.

  • When a company has to litigate to get customers/compete, it's not a good sign.
    • by dangitman (862676) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @12:34AM (#34773370)

      When a company has to litigate to get customers/compete, it's not a good sign.

      On the other hand, when the government simply decides to go with an existing vendor without considering other options, it's also not a good sign. After all, we don't want government wasting money on inferior solutions, do we?

      • by bonch (38532)

        I'm sure Slashdot is the most objective place to determine which solution is the inferior one.

        • by dangitman (862676)

          I'm sure Slashdot is the most objective place to determine which solution is the inferior one.

          When did I suggest that slashdot was the appropriate venue to make such decisions? All I said was that options should be evaluated.

      • by sjames (1099) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @01:44AM (#34773694) Homepage

        Especially when that existing vendor is a serial felon all over the world.

    • They don't need to litlgate, they need to learn to play the game. That means kickbacks.

    • So Google should accept that the government is going to go with Microsoft because the government has always gone with Microsoft? That would mean giving up on the market because, in the long run, they will have to spend more to make sure that the documents their products produce work the same way in the Microsoft product as documents produced with the Microsoft product. Even if they do that, there are still a lot of people who will go with the Microsoft solution because it is the one the government uses, so
  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @12:40AM (#34773406) Homepage
    Justification is easy to invent, it writes itself. Everyone already knows how to use XXX! No, they don't really, and if taking 10 minutes or even a whole day to lean something new is that expensive or difficult, should we not question why they have jobs at all then? We never do, though.

    For medium skill sets, I've had the interesting experience of recently hiring a new secretary to do some work here, and set her up with (of course) a linux box, OO, all that. Taught her how to use even a PCB layout software in a couple days, amazing. But what really kicked my butt, was after a day or two, she comes up with "I like this, what version of windows is it, I've never seen anything work so smoothly before".

    Yeah, big learning curve. Now, she's smart, to be sure. Shouldn't everyone commanding a really good paycheck be? If you're too dumb to move from one thing to another, why can't 5 of you be replaced by one smart person. As a small businessman, I think like that, because if I don't make money, none of us eat - I don't have the bernake's printing presses, you know. But in the long run, neither will they, you can only take that game so far. Gotta dump these folks who think they are entitled to getting paid for not having to think and learn. Hiring is tough right now. It's not that you don't get applications (gawd, you get buried). It's that no on worth hiring applies, and it just costs money to sort all the junk CVs and figure out why this or that loser got laid off their last job -- because as a business owner (and we all know this) -- your business is your people, you take care of the best or you fail. If you are forced to cut, you never cut the good people.....

    If that offends some currently out of jobs, I'm sorry, but not that sorry. Too many of you have shown up here looking for work, and turning out to know only a tiny fraction of what they claimed, and when tried, unable to do as they claim, and/or do it so slowly I may as well do it myself. You may think you're entitled, but no, you just got a good ride for awhile -- doesn't mean you deserve it in return for nothing out of you forever, the times don't permit that for any business that's going to STAY in business.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Posting AC so I don't loose my job. Don't worry, this isn't flaming.

      I find it troubling that you have more or less painted everyone who is unemployed with such a broad brush, that all of the unemployed here are low-skilled tech workers. The fact is, one out of ten -- and closer to one out of eight -- people who are capable of working are unemployed through no fault of their own. You may contend that with leaner times, the 'fat' is being trimmed and therefore they are, in fact, unemployed through their ow

      • by yuhong (1378501)

        Posting AC so I don't loose my job. Don't worry, this isn't flaming.

        Do you work at such a broken company?

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      If you're too dumb to move from one thing to another, why can't 5 of you be replaced by one smart person.

      Your homepage is an example of why.

    • Taught her how to use even a PCB layout software in a couple days, amazing.

      Which PCB layout package was it, if you don't mind me asking?

    • Oh Whaaaa. Haven't you just invented justification for maintaining a sense of superiority? Business is hard. Life is hard. Get over it, or get out of business. Sounds like you are failing to hire people who believe it's their job to make your life easier. But that isn't their fault, that is yours. You're the boss, the owner. Buck stops with you. Blaming others and their perceived failings doesn't mean it's reality.

      You have an opinion, and a world-view. Just like everyone else - including "these folks who t

  • Thats no cloud (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436)
    If is done by Microsoft, is probably vapor or smoke (and mirrors).
    • If is done by Microsoft, is probably vapor or smoke (and mirrors).

      Are you saying that a company that has specialized in vapor for decades would know nothing about a cloud?

      Hmmm... ironically, I guess that's true. ;-)

  • While many people here thought it's a fair judgement, are skipping the fact that it was the Department of Interior who explicitly told bidders to deploy BPOS (Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite) to deliver cloud-based e-mail and messaging services. The bidders must comply as a bidding requirements.

    Taking the prejustice out of the case, I personally don't think it's fair to penalize agency for being complied to bidding requirements. However, may be it's the only way to stop Department of Inter
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:04AM (#34774702) Homepage

    I once helped someone over at the US Dept of State to build the beginnings of a page memorializing the late Ambassador Holbrooke. The HTML rendered fine in all browsers including MSIE6 until it was uploaded to sharepoint. I don't know much about sharepoint except that it breaks HTML even worse than MSIE6 by itself. The way I see it, the fact that nearly all of the US government depends exclusively on MS products needs to be enjoined. Not only is the government breaking its own rules the majority of the time by doing so, it is knowingly employing security risk.

    (disclaimer: I know, when "done right" Microsoft stuff can be more secure than it typically is, but seriously? That's like saying "when prepared right beans and cabbage don't make you fart.")

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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