The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) moved over 400,000 e-mail boxes from its current infrastructure to the Microsoft (News - Alert) Office 365 for Government. The department likely had its hands tied in the decision, since their current infrastructure just was not feasible.
The VA's legacy Microsoft Exchange servers were about decade old, says Charles De Sanno, executive director of Enterprise Systems Engineering for the department, in a recent article. The system was already being pushed to its limits with the current demands. It also had not proven to be cost-effective to maintain the current system. As one of the largest healthcare organizations in the world, in both the public and private sectors, the VA was spending $5 million a year in hardware maintenance alone. This did not account for added costs in cooling, power, or even staff salary.
The official bidding process took place over the summer. Back in November, the VA revealed that a five-year contract for a Microsoft Office 365 cloud migration had been awarded to HP Enterprise Services. The contract was valued at $36 million.
In moving to the cloud, the potential cost benefits for the VA were obviously one of the driving factors. And De Sanno expects that even for this lowered cost, Microsoft Office 365's service level agreement (SLA) guarantees better uptime than he was getting in-house.
De Sanno was also smart in laying out a system that led to full deployment. He was able to get approved and offer up a contract that would first require the partner, in this case HP, to complete a successful rollout of 15,000 seats in March 2013. After six to 90 days of careful observation and assurances that Microsoft Office 365 was what the VA was looking for, the contract provides for the remaining 435,000 mailbox migrations without a need for an extended competition process.
There is also the possibility that other Office 365 services will be utilized by the VA in the future. This however is contingent on the VA being pleased with the service and sticking with Office 365. Otherwise, they may look into Google or Zoho (News - Alert) as alternatives if results aren’t satisfactory.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein