By GCN Staff

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Microsoft Office 365 catching on with public-sector agencies

Microsoft says it’s making progress in moving cash-strapped public-sector organizations to the cloud, announcing that a group of eight local governments and universities were moving to its Office 365 platform. The suite of applications is a subscription-based, multitenant service offering e-mail, calendars and collaboration applications via a community cloud.

Eight local government and university organizations are moving to the service, Microsoft said, including Kansas City, Mo.; Seattle and King County, Wash.; and the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. The universities of Miami and Colorado at Colorado Springs, the California Institute of Technology and Sacramento State University were also making the move, Microsoft said.

Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. public sector at Microsoft, said the new sign-ups reflect the requirements of budget-conscious government and education organizations who also want access to some of the management conveniences promised by the cloud.

“Organizations are achieving significant cost savings through the cloud delivery model while gaining access to the latest collaboration tools, without sacrificing on security or privacy,” he said at the firm’s recent CIO summit.

The organizations sought out Office 365 solution for different reasons, the company said. Kansas City wanted to lower IT costs as well as its energy consumption. Kansas City CIO Mary Miller said the move to Office 365, “would enable our staff to be more efficient while reducing both the city’s IT costs and its energy footprint.”

The University of Miami, on the other hand, had a requirement for a cloud service that met federal health information privacy requirements. Microsoft was the “only vendor willing to offer additional security and privacy safeguards to meet this federal law,” according to the company. And CalTech wanted to “get out of the business of managing e-mail.”

King County CIO Bill Kehoe told InfoWorld the county had used Office 365’s forerunner, Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, in 2011 but made the switch to 365 last year.

"One efficiency has been that we don't have to build out an on-premise server environment for SharePoint and Lync," he told the magazine. "We rely on Microsoft's infrastructure, and they do the software upgrades and take care of the system maintenance."

More than 1 million government workers have made the move to Office 365 for productivity applications, including the Agriculture Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, the city of Chicago and the state of Texas.

Moving resource-strapped public sector agencies from their legacy office applications is no small feat. In making its transition to Office 365, the Environmental Protection Agency said it had to move more than 25,000 employee mailboxes, some of which it discovered held more than a million e-mails. The transition is expected to save the EPA approximately $12 million over the four-year contract period.

In a separate announcement, Microsoft said 11 K-12 school districts and universities have signed on to use Microsoft’s cross-platform Windows 8 operating system.  The group includes the Atlanta Public Schools, Barry University, Fargo Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District, Jackson-Madison County School System, Pace University, San Antonio Independent Schools District, and Little Thomas College and Tuckahoe Common School District.

Posted by Paul McCloskey on Apr 02, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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