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1/27/2009
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Microsoft Woos Obama Administration

President Barack Obama has talked a lot about the need for transparency in government, and his campaign, transition team, and administration have used the Internet as a primary vehicle for communicating with citizens. Now, Microsoft wants to help him with that mission, and it's pulling out all the stops.

President Barack Obama has talked a lot about the need for transparency in government, and his campaign, transition team, and administration have used the Internet as a primary vehicle for communicating with citizens. Now, Microsoft wants to help him with that mission, and it's pulling out all the stops.It's unclear how receptive the administration is, but Microsoft named Carolyn K. Brubaker (also director of business development for Microsoft Federal) as Microsoft's "chief transition officer" only a few days after Obama's election. Brubaker's role will be almost like an account rep, figuring out what the new administration needs and how Microsoft is suited to meet those needs.

The company even started a blog in December called FutureFed to help cement Microsoft's role in a "transitional -- and potentially transformational -- time in the federal government."

Among other initiatives, Microsoft says it has been selling various government agencies (and Obama's team) on the idea that Microsoft Office SharePoint and FAST Search technologies could be used to find, organize, and share the masses of information tied up today in disparate, often disconnected repositories across the federal government, and that SharePoint Online, the SAAS version of the collaboration and content management suite, could be used for public-facing initiatives.

Though transparency is one of Obama's big initiatives and Microsoft hopes to help on that front, for Susie Adams, Microsoft's CTO for the federal civilian sector (that's everything but the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies), the time also is ripe for the government to invest in cloud computing. Since government security requirements often are stricter than in the private sector, most agencies have so far shied away from multitenant apps, but Adams says some have expressed interest in dedicated services.

There's even some interest in the potential of Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform, Adams says. Amazon also has a group aiming its sights on the federal government's interest in Amazon Web Services. However, if agencies are looking toward even multitenant e-mail with skepticism, it's probably a safe bet they'll take a similar tack with cloud platforms for now.

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