VA goes into the Clouds

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Through a $36 million contract with HP Enterprise Services, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be added to the group of federal agencies that will begin using cloud-based Office 365 for its employees.

The federal government’s “Cloud First” policy is making headway, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is among other federal agencies moving to the cloud through a five-year, $36 million contract with HP Enterprise Services. The VA is moving 600,000 personnel to Microsoft Office 365 for Government for department-wide email and calendaring. With this move, Microsoft adds the VA to its growing list of federal agencies who are customers, including the United States Department of Agriculture, Defense Information Systems Agency, Federal Aviation Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Announced about two years ago, the “Cloud First” federal mandate, a reform in how the federal government purchases and uses IT, aims to help the government to cut waste and save money. Plus, there’s a push to improve productivity and collaboration, too.

“VA is moving to cloud-based email and collaboration as part of a broader effort to leverage emerging technologies to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and, most importantly, improve service delivery to our nation’s veterans,” said Charles De Sanno, executive director, Enterprise Systems Engineering, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The move to cloud will be an incremental one, beginning with an initial 15,000 people before expanding agency-wide to 600,000 employees when all contract options are executed. Under the agreement, HP is behind the implementation and ongoing management of Office 365 for the VA. It will ensure reliability, security, privacy and compliance, and implement geographically diverse disaster recovery.

“Together with the VA and Microsoft, the HP team will modernize the VA’s communications infrastructure while lowering costs and setting the stage for other U.S. government agencies to enter the cloud era,” said Marilyn Crouther, senior vice president and general manager, U.S. Public Sector, HP Enterprise Services. HP has been working with the VA for more than 13 years, and on some of the agency’s most critical initiatives, including multiple IT solutions with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and VA Office of Information and Technology (OIT).

This is another win for Microsoft Office 365 in the government sector, and it’s a win that’s valuable not only in terms of money, but in terms of validating the cloud-based Office 365 suite for usage in even sensitive environments.

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