Microsoft Makes Good In Chicago
January 4, 2013

Microsoft Gets A Shot In the Arm From Chicago

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

While they´ve yet to announce how well their latest software offerings performed over the usually lucrative holiday season, Microsoft has just landed quite the client for their cloud services.

According to a statement, the City of Chicago has announced they´ll begin adopting a “Cloud computing strategy for city-wide email and applications” via Microsoft.

This move will bring the city´s 30,000 employees underneath one cloud-based email umbrella. Currently, the Windy City internally manages 3 separate email systems. According to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, consolidating to one, Windows-based system will save taxpayer dollars, somewhere to the tune of $400,000 a year.

“This strategy is an innovative solution for the City, making our operations more effective and secure and saving taxpayer money,” explained Mayor Emmanuel in the statement.

“We are leveraging new technologies to streamline and modernize the way we do business in order to provide the residents of Chicago with the best service at the best price, which has been a fundamental part of my approach as Mayor from the moment I took office.”

Chicago´s CIO Brett Goldstein also had his reasons for switching the city over to Microsoft for their email and cloud-based solutions, saying he expects the new system to offer better service and better functionality, all at a better price than their previous system.

"We need to be thinking like an enterprise," explained Goldstein, speaking to Computer World.

"One of the things that drives me crazy is this idea of 'good enough for government work' -- that is not OK,” said Goldstein.

"I am going to raise the bar really high -- I don't want people pointing to IT as ever inhibiting business, it should be enabling business.”

Though they don´t specifically mention what service they´ll be using, the city will likely be using a version of Office 365, Microsoft´s cloud-based enterprise solution. The new system will include both desktop applications and email services for all city departments. The city of Chicago hopes that bringing all of their services to Microsoft will help reduce outages, improve security and allow employees to connect with one another more easily.

According to the statement, this move is another step to “modernize” their digital infrastructure and “foster data-driven innovation.” Chicago has already consolidated their IT operations this year by combining their libraries and non-emergency public safety IT under the Department of IT. This move, according to the city, “Decreases duplication across departments and allowing the City to be more effective.”

As Google continues to encroach upon Microsoft´s main money-making division, these kinds of contracts can help Microsoft not only continue in their profitability, but hopefully bring in new customers as well.

The US Department of Defense has also recently signed a contract with Microsoft to use their Windows 8 OS, as well as Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. Though the city of Chicago never announced how long they plan to use Microsoft, the DoD has signed a 3-year contract, totaling $617 million.