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Minnesota Completes Migration To Microsoft Cloud

After a year of testing, the state's Office of Enterprise Technology has moved nearly 39,000 workers to Office 365 for collaboration and email.

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Minnesota's IT agency has completed its migration to Microsoft Office 365 for employees using cloud-based email and collaboration software as state governments continue to follow the lead of the federal government and make the jump to the cloud.

Minnesota signed a deal with Microsoft in September 2010 to move about 33,000 workers to what was then called the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). At the time, a state official said the migration would be complete in 16 to 30 weeks. However, a three-week state government shutdown in July 2011, contingency planning for that shutdown, and a year-long testing and evaluation phase delayed the original plan, according to the state's Office of Enterprise Technology (OET). Now, the OET has moved nearly 40,000 employees to the next generation of BPOS, Microsoft Office 365, as an upgrade to its communication and collaboration systems, according to Microsoft. The Minnesota OET, which provides IT services to the state's executive branch, comprised more than 70 agencies.

[ Wyoming takes the Google route to the cloud. See Wyoming Completes Google Apps Migration. ]

It took the OET about two months--October and November 2011--to migrate Microsoft Outlook mailboxes to the cloud-based service, a move that resulted in 50 times more storage capacity for those workers than they previously had, said Tarek Tomes, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota OET, in a Microsoft statement.

During the migration period, the state moved 39,000 mailboxes, 4 terabytes of data, and 66.5 million items, according to a case study about the project sent to Informationweek by an OET spokesperson.

Tomes said the migration itself went smoothly, without network downtime or a disruption to workers' email access. "One of our requirements for adopting Office 365 cloud services was seamless end-user adoption," he said.

Aside from the obvious benefits of not having to incur hardware and software costs for having e-mail systems in-house, worker productivity and a reduction in IT administration also were key driving factors for the move, according to the case study. The OET also can now offer hosted e-mail and collaboration services to other customers that it serves.

The OET also expects other collaborative benefits of making the switch, said Minnesota CIO Carolyn Parnell in a Microsoft statement.

"The collaborative tools within this suite are excellent, and we have already started using Microsoft SharePoint Online for capturing what's going on in agencies," she said.

Both federal and regional governments are seeing the cost-saving and worker productivity benefits of moving to cloud computing, and e-mail and collaboration have been among the first applications many government customers are migrating to a hosted environment.

Other state governments with agencies that have chosen Microsoft's cloud-based services for email and collaboration include New York, California, and Nebraska. Other states--Colorado, Wyoming, Maryland, and Utah--are going with rival Google's Google Apps for Government.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for? 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

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