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The past few months have marked a transformative time in government IT, with the State of California, the State of Minnesota and New York City all embracing Microsoft Online Services. And now that momentum is carrying into the federal sector, with groundbreaking news from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), who announced that they are ready to go live with Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Office Communications Online.
The good folks at the USDA bring us Americans things like the food pyramid, national parks, the national school lunch program, organic certification, services that keep the food supply safe and much more, and with Microsoft Online Services, they are setting the bar for cloud services in the federal government.
USDA is the first cabinet level agency to leverage cloud services, and the first federal government agency (period) to deploy a full cloud messaging and collaboration service. While other agencies have just announced their plans or deployed e-mail solutions in sub-agencies, USDA will consolidate 120,000 people across 21 e-mail systems in a highly distributed workforce. So, there is no doubt that other government organizations will be watching USDA closely as a bellwether for cloud adoption.
USDA chose Microsoft because they wanted enterprise-grade features that would work with the systems and applications they already use and know. Some of the specific capabilities they cited are global address lists, full calendar synchronization, integrated voice mail and email, delegated administration, read receipts, distribution lists, offline access and robust security and privacy.
USDA expects to reduce costs as well as improve operations with this move. USDA employees will be able to collaborate more easily with colleagues across the nation, and they will get the latest innovations while still leveraging their existing devices and applications. And, with the release of Office 365 in 2011, USDA will also be one of the very first government entities to enjoy the new service.
So, welcome to the cloud, USDA. We're glad to have you!
-Allen, Office 365 Product Manager
I am a small business and we use your MS Access and don't see it on the list of items for the cloud. Is this something that will be added to the Office Cloud Suite?
I am interested in knowing if there are any certifications/courses offered in regards to Microsoft Office 365. Also, has any pricing for Office 365 been established and if so, can you list the prices for these services.
@Mike M: read Q4 here: community.office365.com/.../more-office-365-answers.aspx Acess and Access Services will definitely be supported as a part of Office 365.
@Jon: Pricing and Plans sheet can be found on our website, Office365.com. Direct link here -> office365.microsoft.com/.../Office365FactSheet.docx
@Jon: And for the other part of your question, yes, if you are a Microsoft Certified Partner as part of our Cloud Essentials pack and at quickstartonlineservices. Otherwise, there is nothing available at this time, as we are still in beta.
USDA started in cloud? this is interesting. What are the prices for BPOS and Office365? I am very much interested to learn more about the different price offering. I would like to also compare in-house hosting versus cloud for Exchange server. I tried looking at the forums: http://www.office365forums.com but no info yet. did the USDA calculate the ROI on going to cloud?
@John: Price for BPOS is $10 per user per month. (website here: www.microsoft.com/online) Office 365 provides a range of prices based on what you are looking for. Pricing sheet is here: office365.microsoft.com/.../what-is-office365.aspx. FYI that site is not a Microsoft owned site, so please refer to our website for information on Office 365.
What about the web site tool ? It will be the same as Small Business or You will have a new one, more flexible, etc.
@Miguel: Could you clarify your question? Which two tools are you comparing? The web site tools in Office 365 for small business vs the enterprise offer or Office Live Small Business or BPOS?