New York City, Microsoft Partner for Cloud Computing

New York City unveiled a comprehensive technology agreement with Microsoft Wednesday under which the Big Apple will make a major investment in cloud computing. They also will partner to create new software services to help government workers harness the full potential of cloud-computing environments.

Previously, the city’s various agencies purchased Microsoft software licenses, maintenance agreements, and support packages separately, Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted. “It was complicated, cumbersome and, needless to say, not very cost-effective,” he said.

Bloomberg expects to save an estimated $50 million over the next five years by transitioning more than 100,000 government workers to a single unified licensing contract with Microsoft. What’s more, the city’s move to the cloud means “employees will be able to more easily share their work with coworkers — whether they are sitting in the next room, across town, or even on the other side of the world,” Bloomberg said.

Agility, Speed and Effectiveness

New York City realized that its current IT infrastructure was hampered by fragmentation as well as siloed technology assets. Under the partnership with Microsoft, government servers and databases will become centralized across agencies, which will distribute computing power more efficiently and enable systems to talk to one other.

The city plans to harness the power of Microsoft’s Windows Azure as well as the software giant’s new Office 365 cloud environment, noted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Moreover, Microsoft expects to be an active partner with the City’s IT and telecommunications department in helping its next-generation cloud services achieve “an agility, speed and effectiveness that hopefully has never been seen before,” Ballmer said.

Microsoft’s cloud environment will also let New York City use technologies like Town Hall to facilitate online discussion groups that will engage constituents in new ways, noted Microsoft Vice President Gail Thomas-Flynn. “Cloud technologies will also make open government data sets readily available…

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