December 13, 2010
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) apparently is the first cabinet-level federal agency to jump over to the cloud. Microsoft Online Services says it will take 120,000 USDA users over to the Microsoft cloud. Notable for its absence? Any signs that a Microsoft channel partner will be involved in the migration.
Previously, says Microsoft’s press release, the USDA had been using 21 discrete legacy messaging and collaboration systems in its 5,000 offices across 100 countries worldwide. But as Microsoft Online Services customers, all those employees will be using cloud versions of Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Office instead.
The potential benefits of USDA’s cloud move are the same every VAR, MSP, and cloud service provider can recite by heart: lower TCO, easier upgrades, and a more robust feature set.
Still, plenty of questions remain. Microsoft did not disclose whether the USDA will deploy Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) or its forthcoming successor, Microsoft Office 365 suite (debuting sometime in 2011). Since the move starts in the next four weeks it sounds like BPOS will be involved.
Said USDA CIO Chris Smith in a prepared statement:
“Basically, the car we owned was getting ready for a major engine overhaul. All our servers were at least three years old. We’re going from owning the car and paying for the tires, the oil, and the upkeep to basically buying a Zip car that’s wherever we need it, whenever we need it.”
When reached for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said Dell is assisting with the USDA rollout. The deal is a huge step forward in legitimizing cloud computing for the government and enterprises alike.But TalkinCloud will be watching to see whether channel partners will be along for the ride.
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