Microsoft and General Electric today announced that they have signed an agreement that will bring Office 365's cloud-backed productivity apps and services to the latter's massive global workforce.
Under the deal's terms, Microsoft will make Office 365 available to GE's 300,000 employees across 170 countries. The software's capabilities aside, the deal indicates that Microsoft's investments in growing its cloud footprint are paying off.
GE's IT leaders picked "Office 365 based on Microsoft's ability to deliver rich productivity experiences at massive scale across devices and platforms, as well as its ability to rapidly and reliably deploy to GE's large global employee population," stated the companies in a July 20 announcement. Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, operates out of 17 regions spread across the world. The result of $15 billion in global data center infrastructure spending, Azure powers services such as Office 365 for 140 countries in 10 languages.
"As we deepen our investments in employee productivity, Microsoft's innovative approach to collaboration made Office 365 our first choice for providing scalable productivity tools to our employees worldwide," said Jamie Miller, senior vice president and CIO of GE, in a statement.
GE CTO Larry Biagini said another factor in his company's decision to standardize on Office 365 was the new cloudlike upgrade cycle Microsoft has adopted for the productivity platform.
"We wanted to get out of an environment where upgrades were a point-in-time decision, and that cadence of being able to take advantage of new functionality is something that we believe we're going to get huge advantage from," he is quoted as saying in a Microsoft Business Matters blog post related to the deal.
As expected, GE's employees will be provided secure access to the components of the Office 365 suite, including Skype for Business, along with collaboration capabilities like real-time document co-authoring. GE is also expected to use Office 365 application programming interfaces (APIs) to link its line-of-business applications to Office.
"A one-size-fits-all solution is unrealistic for a company of our size, so the interoperability and flexibility of the platform, the ability to integrate with other tools was an extremely important piece. Some of our solutions may not come from Microsoft, but the ability to integrate has to come from Microsoft," Biagini said.
The GE agreement comes less than two weeks after Microsoft helped land one of the largest commercial cloud contracts in Department of Defense (DoD) history.
On July 9, the United States Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency announced they had awarded a contract to Microsoft, Dell and General Dynamics for a 100,000-seat, DoD-dedicated version of Microsoft Office 365, through the Collaboration Pathfinder (CP) project. "The agreement, which has the potential to scale up in reach, is expected to help the Air Force and DLA reduce costs significantly over the next three years," said Leigh Madden, senior director of Microsoft's U.S. Air Force business unit, in a statement.