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FAA Picks Microsoft Office 365 Private Cloud

CSC wins $91 million, seven-year deal to move 80,000 Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation employees to Microsoft's cloud productivity suite.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded consulting firm CSC a contract worth up to $91 million over seven years to move the agency to Microsoft's Office 365 software-as-a-service (SaaS).

CSC will provide systems integration services to migrate 60,000 FAA employees and 20,000 Department of Transportation (DOT) employees to the cloud-based applications. The contract covers Microsoft Exchange 2010, SharePoint, Lync, and other apps in the Office 365 suite.

The FAA has opted for a private cloud implementation, rather than Microsoft's recently announced Office 365 for Government, a multi-tenant cloud platform, said Susie Adams, CTO of Microsoft Federal, in an interview with InformationWeek. In that regard, the FAA is following the model of the Department of Agriculture, which chose a Microsoft private cloud for 120,000 employees and contractors in December 2010.

As prime contractor, CSC will provide a range of integration services to ensure a smooth transition, said Leif Ulstrup, president of the company's North American public sector federal consulting practice. That includes making sure the Microsoft apps "integrate into their workflow," he said. For example, a single sign-on capability must work with relevant FAA and DOT policies.

[ What's the best online productivity software suite? See Google Apps Vs Office 365? It All Depends. ]

CSC will be responsible for making sure that the Office 365 cloud integrates with other FAA platforms, such as Cisco Systems' unified solutions for telephony, Ulstrup said.

CSC will also provide Office 365 training to the FAA. "When you use office automation, it's usually picked up through osmosis," Ulstrup said. "What we do, under the label of change management, is help them use the full capabilities of these platforms."

Microsoft and CSC point to the contract as another example of a federal agency responding to the Office of Management and Budget's "cloud first" initiative, which is part of a 25-point IT reform plan introduced in December 2010 with a goal of improving efficiencies and lowering IT costs.

The Office of Management and Budget demands that federal agencies tap into a more efficient IT delivery model. The new Shared Services Mandate issue of InformationWeek Government explains how they're doing it. Also in this issue: Uncle Sam should develop an IT savings dashboard that shows the returns on its multibillion-dollar IT investment. (Free registration required.)

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