Microsoft Claims Key Calif. County as Latest Cloud Conquest

Microsoft said California's Santa Clara County is its latest cloud customer, as the county becomes an Office 365 user for $3.6 million a year.

Microsoft announced that Santa Clara County, Calif., is the latest cloud customer to adopt the company's Office 365 solution.

Santa Clara County announced it will upgrade and consolidate its multiple, countywide email systems as part of its ongoing efforts to transform its operations, improve the quality and efficiency of its services to county residents and streamline IT management costs.

The county's focus is public services, which are provided by more than 15,000 employees across 26 diverse agencies and departments. Among the services are the operation of a public hospital and health system; a 45,000-acre system of urban and mountain parks, trails, lakes, streams and open spaces; tax collection; social services; law and justice operations; roads and airports; and conducting elections.

"Our mid-managers and frontline employees are in a unique position to help the county find workable solutions to challenges," Jeffrey V. Smith, county executive, said in a statement. Smith established the Center for Leadership and Transformation (CLT), a strategic in-house program to transform the way the county does business. "By standardizing the way we approach technology and procurement, we will be able to enhance efficiencies throughout the organization and finance them within existing resources," he said.

One of the benefits of Office 365 is the ability to provide a hybrid system that accommodates most county application and security requirements to interact with cloud solutions while providing a local option for highly sensitive communications using advanced security protections.

According to the CLT, until recently, various county departments made technology decisions in isolation, which led to fragmentation, redundancies and unnecessary costs. The CLT provides opportunities for employee teams to tackle some of the county's toughest and most immediate issues and transform operations. The team of managers assigned to technology determined that by consolidating and leveraging technology dollars, the county could achieve considerable savings and efficiencies and create a foundation for broader integration of IT business solutions.

After a competitive bidding process, the county selected Microsoft Office 365 and took the opportunity to look across and consolidate IT assets, providing significant cost savings to the county and more than 36 new products. The cost for this expansion was just under 10 percent more than previously spent.

"We selected Office 365 because it addressed a wide spectrum of county needs," Joyce Wing, CIO for the county, said in a statement. "The selection of this solution and our IT consolidation efforts have enabled us to nearly double the number of employees covered and will provide our staff with new tools and collaboration technologies to help better serve our residents. Now our staff will be able to move forward collaboratively and take advantage of many new capabilities."

The county has numerous remote field staff, which creates the need to share information electronically in a confidential manner, consistent with regulations that govern privacy and other sensitive information. This new approach will increase the mobility of workers by providing access virtually anywhere, any time and with any device, and will provide the ability to share documents across the organization electronically, which is mostly completed manually today. The cost to the county will be $3.6 million annually for the entire workforce. Before this agreement, only half the county staff was covered, at a cost of $3.3 million.

"The County of Santa Clara has a long track record as a progressive leader in utilizing new technologies to improve the resident services it provides," said Stuart McKee, chief technology officer for U.S. State and Local Government at Microsoft, in a statement. "We look forward to a strong continued partnership with Santa Clara to equip and support all its workers with the tools they need to transform their operations, collaborate from virtually anywhere using any device and, ultimately, better serve the public."