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US Department of Agriculture Deploys Massive Cloud Solution

The migration to the cloud is part of USDA CIO Chris Smith’s vision

Is cloud computing truly scalable and can a solution be rolled out quickly?  Microsoft’s current experience with the US Department of Agriculture strongly suggests that the answer to both parts of the question is yes.

The past few months have marked a transformative time in government IT in the USA , with the State of California, the State of Minnesota, and New York City embracing cloud computing. And now that momentum is carrying into the federal sector, as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)becomes the first cabinet-level agency to move its e-mail and productivity applications to the cloud.

USDA will transition 120,000 federal workers from on-premise messaging and collaboration to Microsoft’s cloud computing solution over four weeks.  The migration to the cloud is part of USDA CIO Chris Smith’s vision to consolidate disparate messaging environments onto a single, unified platform, which will reduce costs, boost workforce productivity and improve communications and collaboration across the agency.

USDA is an incredibly complex enterprise, with a distributed workforce, 27 sub agencies, and a broad mission that touches everything from homeland security to food safety. Organizations like USDA require enterprise-grade collaborative capabilities like global address lists, full calendar synchronisation, presence and video conferencing. Through the power of the cloud, USDA personnel will have better access to information and improved data sharing capabilities, all while reducing computing costs and building on existing investments.

These stories would indicate that, to use the Geoffrey Moore ‘Crossing the Chasm’ terminology, cloud computing is moving from a few early adopters to becoming an increasingly mainstream choice of ICT strategy for organizations in both the public and commercial sectors.

More Stories By Ian McKenzie

Ian McKenzie works with the Public Sector group at Microsoft UK Ltd.

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