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 to city residents, increasing transparency and allowing locals to build new apps based on public data," Thomas-Flynn wrote in a blog Wednesday.
Laying A Foundation For Innovation
Many city governments currently struggling to maintain their infrastructures at the same level as commercial organizations have failed to recognize the power they have when it comes to leveraging their critical mass. However, New York City employees using Microsoft's latest cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools will have ubiquitous access to information, improved collaboration, and information sharing right across the city's various agencies, Thomas-Flynn wrote.
"Additionally, this comprehensive partnership provides the latest in operating system, server and development tools, laying a foundation for greater innovation and infrastructure modernization," Ballmer said.
Tapping the cloud as an extension of the city's network of servers will enable software programmers to create the new apps that individual agencies need while simultaneously reducing hardware and energy costs. "This initiative is a great example of making consolidation work by taking advantage of shared resources" to distribute computing power more efficiently and enabling systems to talk to one other, Thomas-Flynn wrote.
Moreover, the first wave of 30,000 New York City workers moving to the cloud will be able to work on documents simultaneously with colleagues, as well as tap the cloud's e-mail, instant messaging, and video-conferencing capabilities. "This IT modernization initiative is further evidence of the city's willingness to make bold decisions to better serve its citizens," Thomas-Flynn added.
Posted: 2010-10-20 @ 5:02pm PT
Joseph: Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, where shared resources like software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, kind of like electricity.
Posted: 2010-10-20 @ 4:54pm PT
what is cloud?