Microsoft and the city and county of San Francisco agreed on a $1.2 million contract that will shift more than 23,000 employees onto Microsoft's Exchange Online cloud email solution.
If that sounds like quite a little, it is: Jon Walton, the city's chief information officer, said it will cost San Francisco just $6.50 per user per month, for a total of $1.2 million in the first year. That will be slightly less than the $1.7 million to $1.8 million the city can expect to pay when the solution is fully deployed, a spokesman for the city said.
Walton said that the company evaluated Google Apps and Lotus Notes over several years, and the city's CIOs unanimously chose Microsoft because of the city's established commitment to other Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, SharePoint, and Azure, Microsoft's cloud solution. Google, by contrast, charges users $50 per email account per year, although it throws in a whole suite of apps for that price.
San Francisco is scheduled to release its five-year IT plan on Thursday, and the Microsoft contract was the first part of that. Seven disparate email systems across the city and county will be combined into a single solution.
"We didn't see it as a point was not a point decision, where we were just making a decision about email," Walton said. "I think the CIOs came under consideration that it had to be an email solution that had to be complementary with all of the other things they wanted to accomplish with the city. I think at the end of the day, that was really the big bet."
Microsoft and Google have gone at it tooth and nail to establish the company's respective cloud apps solutions for cities and governments, which have faced declining budgets. The most recent conflict was over the issue of FISMA certification, where the certification of each solution for secure government environments was at issue.
Walton said that the city factored in a BPOS outage Microsoft experienced last week, where on May 11 and 12 Microsoft experienced three separate outages. The city's pilot team of about 300 workers experienced the outages as a delay, and that no emails were lost, he said. He also said that security "was a very important topic" that the city discussed with Microsoft, especially after an incident where Terry Childs, a network engineer for the city, managed to lock out other employees from the network.
"In the past when we had outages, it was a complex system, where we had to call workers back in," Walton said. Now, he added, the company can hand the support off to Microsoft, and has a service-level agreement in place to receive credit for any outages.
Walton also said the city is looking at Microsoft's Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based Office solution.