Minnesota moves e-mail to Microsoft's cloud
State turns to Microsoft's hosted business suite as part of effort to reshape its IT systems
Computerworld - Minnesota said Tuesday that it is moving its messaging and collaboration services to Microsoft's cloud computing platform in an effort to address multiple issues -- including an aging workforce, increasing red ink and a desire for shared services.
Approximately 33,000 state workers in Minnesota will be affected by the move, which could be one of the largest public sector migrations to a cloud platform.
The City of Los Angeles late last year agreed to shift about 30,000 employees to Google Apps from the Novell GroupWise collaboration system.
The state of Colorado decided this year to make Google Apps available to state agencies and local governments. The potential user base may be as large as 45,000, but the migration is optional for government workers and only a fraction are expected to sign up in the initial years of the effort.
Minnesota's decision follows an 18-month project to consolidate some 30 messaging environments, which included GroupWise and Lotus Notes, as well as multiple Microsoft Exchange versions, to a single Exchange platform. Now the applications will move to the cloud via Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.
Because of the initial move to consolidate on Microsoft systems, the cloud migration will be virtually seamless to employees, Minnesota officials said.
Minnesota officials aren't disclosing any projected cost savings figures. While the shift to the cloud is expected to cut costs, the ultimate savings amount may depend on how many city and county governments sign-up for it as well.
Officials said the state did not seek bids, or requests for proposals, for a cloud computing system as Microsoft hosted suite was already a standard part of the earlier large licensing contract signed to consolidate the messaging systems.
Officials listed several reasons for the move to the cloud, including cost savings as it deals with projected budget deficits and the loss of experienced state workers, which Gophal Khanna, the state CIO, called a "bigger challenge" for Minnesota. Some 50% of the state's workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next 10 years, "which creates a huge risk in [administering] government services," he said.
Los Angeles, as part of its contract with Google, is requiring that its e-mail remain in U.S.-based Google data centers. Minnesota has a similar agreement with Microsoft. The cloud service will be hosted in the U.S., with disaster recovery capabilities across multiple data centers in different locations, and a dedicated environment that cannot be accessed by other Microsoft customers, said state officials.
The adoption of cloud computing is part of overall effort in Minnesota to restructure from the silo approaches that led over time to more than two dozen messaging systems to a more horizontal system that offers shared services, said Khanna.
Minnesota isn't new to cloud or Software as a Service-based (SaaS) applications. It already uses SaaS-based systems for CRM and tax related applications, vendor credit card processing gateways and other services.
The state may continue to expand its use of this approach, and may offer Microsoft Office products, such as Word, from the cloud as well.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Read more about Cloud Computing in Computerworld's Cloud Computing Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- ESG: The IBM FlashSystem 840: Technical Evolution to Deliver Business Value In this whitepaper, you will learn how this high-speed storage technology has tremendous potential to support I/O-intensive and/or latency-sensitive applications.
- Choosing an MDM Platform: Where to Start the Conversation If you're in the early stages of choosing an MDM solution, or you're considering switching vendors, here are seven critical questions to ask...
- Axeda Platform Technical Overview This paper summarizes the major features of an IoT platform and explains how they simplify and speed the process of developing and deploying...
- Stock Shock: The effect of project and portfolio management on share price In this independent report, you'll see the intrinsic connection between long-term capital investment and short term market performance -- and how this can...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources... All Cloud Computing White Papers | Webcasts