The Minnesota state government said last month that it's moving its messaging and collaboration systems to Microsoft Corp.'s hosted Business Productivity Online Suite in an effort to address multiple challenges, including an aging workforce and an increase in red ink.
The move will affect about 33,000 state employees, making it one of the largest public-sector migrations to a cloud environment.
Minnesota's decision follows an 18-month project to consolidate 30 messaging systems, such as GroupWise, Lotus Notes and multiple versions of Microsoft Exchange, to a single Exchange system.
Officials cited several reasons for the move to the cloud, including a need to save money at a time of projected budget deficits. Moreover, the state must deal with the fact that 50 per cent of its workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next 10 years -- a situation a that "creates a huge risk in [administering] government services," said Minnesota CIO Gophal Khanna.
The adoption of cloud computing is part of a larger shift from silo approaches that spawned more than two-dozen messaging systems to a more horizontal system that offers shared services, said Khanna.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.