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September 27, 2010

Microsoft to provide cloud-based UC services to State of Minnesota

To deliver the State's Enterprise Unified Communications and Collaborations services through MS BPOS

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft and the State of Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) have signed a enterprise-wide service agreement to deliver technology services efficiently and cost-effectively for the state.

As per the agreement, Microsoft will deliver the State’s Enterprise Unified Communications and Collaborations services through its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) in a private cloud environment.

Minnesota state chief information officer Gopal Khanna said that rethinking the way the state managed its digital infrastructure centrally, to save locally across all units of government, was a crucial part of the solution.

"The private sector has utilised technological advancements like cloud computing to realise operational efficiencies for some time now. Government must follow suit," Khanna said.

"The combination immediately improves our security and cuts our costs, making it possible for a digital infrastructure that can transform government into a 24/7 operation – even in hard times."

The scope of the agreement will include all executive branch agencies, but other OET customers, including local governments, cities, counties and educational entities, can choose to take part in the agreement as well.

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The partnership allows the State to add new features, functionality and security to its service offerings by combining basic business productivity applications in a unified package and by taking advantage of the aggregated demand of all state agencies.

Email, instant messaging, Web-based collaboration and conferencing are all included in the agreement and will be provided through Microsoft’s online hosting cost effectively.

BPOS applications for the State of Minnesota will be housed in a dedicated Microsoft environment and delivered online through a direct connection to Minnesota’s secure network to ensure the privacy of state government data.

Khanna said, the superior architecture of the applications and the state-of-the-art physical security of Microsoft’s facility increases data security several fold, providing an instant upgrade to the State’s security profile.

OET Assistant Commissioner for customer and service management Tarek Tomes said, the agreement keeps the service management of the State’s critical communications tools in State hands, but leaves the costly application management to Microsoft’s experts.

"The conversion to a hosted service allows us to meet critical business needs related to capacity, modernisation and agility in the most efficient and effective manner," Tomes said.

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