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San Francisco Moves E-Mail to Microsoft's Cloud

The city of San Francisco plans to migrate from its farms of Lotus Notes and Exchange servers to the cloud with Microsoft's Exchange Online service.

Some 23,000 users across 60 departments and agencies in San Francisco will move to Exchange Online over the next 12 months, Microsoft and the city announced on Wednesday at a press teleconference held in San Francisco. Also considered were Google Apps and LotusLive.

The deal is valued at $1.2 million per year, amounting to $6.50 per user per month, San Francisco CIO Jon Walton said. "That is a significant savings to the city, and as a matter of fact was one of the key ways that the Department of Technology was able to achieve its 20 percent budget reduction target for this fiscal year, which was directed from the mayor's office," Walton said.

The city is currently operating seven e-mail systems, and the cost of administering them was a key factor in its decision to move e-mail to the cloud. The fact that the city is a heavy user of Microsoft Office and SharePoint and has started to use Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service weighed heavily in choosing Exchange Online, according to Walton.

Walton was well aware of last week's Exchange Online outage, which left many customers fuming, though Walton wasn't one of them. "The reality of it for us is e-mail outages unfortunately are not something that haven't happened to us before," he said, noting the outage in San Francisco's case only led to a delay in delivery of messages of four hours.

"We actually see what happened last week with the Microsoft outage as really demonstrating why we think we made the right decision," Walton said. "We were able to have a single point of contact. Microsoft kept us very up to speed. We were in close contact with them. We lost no messages."

As for Office 365, Walton isn't ruling that out for the future, but it's not in the current plan. "We are certainly interested in [Office] 365, because we have budget challenges here in the city. I think it will come down to a conversation about cost," he said.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on May 19, 2011


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