REDMOND, Wash. — March 4, 2009 — This week, more than 300 top government and education technology leaders will gather for the seventh annual U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit to discuss challenges common to government and education organizations and how information technology can be used to help solve them while creating cost efficiencies and maximum impact. The summit, which will feature Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and an array of executives from across the company, will highlight new technology and solutions from Microsoft Corp. and industry partners, as well as innovative approaches to cloud computing, collaboration, unified communications, mobility and more. Microsoft is also introducing the Federal Server Core Configuration (FSCC) and innovative customer initiatives, including a cloud computing business productivity solution with the city of Carlsbad, Calif., and a Virtual Earth application with the city of Seattle.
“In today’s uncertain environment, public sector CIOs are looking at technology as a key enabler to make their organizations more efficient and effective, while at the same time improving transparency and collaboration,” said Curt Kolcun, vice president of Microsoft U.S. Public Sector. “This summit provides an opportunity for our customers to share best practices with their peers while envisioning how technology can accelerate the promise of Gov 2.0 and improve 21st century learning.”
Carlsbad Leads Cities in Move to Cloud, Government 2.0
The city of Carlsbad joined Microsoft today in announcing that it has chosen to use Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite to provide a hosted solution for its collaboration and e-mail applications. Freeing up vital IT resources and staff for more innovative and strategic projects, the solution will provide the city of Carlsbad with a solution that includes management and administration, round-the-clock support, backup, filtering, and compliance features for e-mail.
“As we prepared to migrate e-mail systems it was the perfect time to ask the question of whether someone else could build, manage and support a collaboration environment as well as or better and for a lower cost than internal IT staff” said Gordon Peterson, director of information technology for the city of Carlsbad. The city found Microsoft’s solution to be cost-effective and met its security and best practice requirements with the additional benefit of round-the-clock e-mail support.
Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite is based on Microsoft’s software-plus-services cloud-computing model that combines the reach of the Internet with the power of local software applications. By bringing together software and services, customers can maximize capabilities, choice and flexibility. Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite is designed to provide the performance, scalability, security, management features and service-level capabilities to support leading public and private organizations. All Microsoft’s datacenters are owned and operated by the company. Also, Microsoft has implemented a full mirror image of its primary infrastructure to help ensure customers maintain full capabilities and recovery in the event of a disaster scenario.
“Microsoft’s commitment to hosted software and services is evident from heavy investment in datacenter infrastructure that’s been taking place over the past several years,” said Gail Thomas-Flynn, general manager of State and Local Government at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s strategy is to offer customers the power of choice: run applications on-premises, via a hosted solution or through a hybrid of both.”
By using a hosted solution the city of Carlsbad will be able to leverage its existing investments with Microsoft and expand functionality to include Exchange Server, Exchange ActiveSync, SharePoint Products and Technologies, Microsoft Windows Messenger and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. In the near and long term this will allow the city to maximize resources, redirecting strategic funds that otherwise would have had to go to on-premises IT infrastructure, hiring and training. Peterson noted, “Placing our collaboration services in the cloud will help us change our focus from maintaining systems and keeping them running to using the technology more effectively.”
Another example of government harnessing the power of IT to bring about what many are calling government 2.0 services to its citizens is Seattle’s use of Microsoft Virtual Earth. The CIO Summit will also feature Seattle’s My Neighborhood Map (MNM) service and plans. MNM is a public-facing mapping application displaying information by individual neighborhood related to city services, incidents results for each neighborhood and related statistical data. The site was revamped from a 2006 custom-created ESRI ArcIMS and .NET-based application to now use Microsoft Virtual Earth as its base map.
The MNM application provides access to more than 50 city services, real-time 911 results and Seattle Police Department crime data. In addition to using Microsoft Virtual Earth as the new platform, the city added functionality that will allow citizens to view the office location of their elected officials, public safety offices, education resources, transportation information and utilities services as well as facts about parks, arts and recreation facilities.
Server and Desktop Security Standardization Leads to Infrastructure Optimization
At the CIO Summit, Microsoft also unveiled the Federal Server Core Configuration (FSCC) standard and Standard Desktop Core Configuration (SDCC), designed to provide a common, enterprisewide, managed environment for servers and desktops, respectively, running Windows operating systems. FSCC brings customers the same benefits as the widely adopted Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC), including enhanced security, lower support costs, increased agility, and streamlined network management, all through the application of a single baseline server image on all Windows-based servers.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency recommended to the incoming administration that we build upon and extend the FDCC model to other platforms.
The SDCC, built on the model and desktop configurations of FDCC, is now being offered to state and local government agencies, along with private sector organizations. They include baseline configurations and imaging, as well as role-based configurations for many Microsoft applications.
The concept of enhancing server and network security, while also reducing the total cost of ownership, first took shape on a large enterprise scale in the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It began as a follow-on project to the USAF’s pioneering work on desktop standardization that grew into the Federal Desktop Core Configuration.
Although FSCC is not currently a federal government mandate, there is growing momentum toward standards, as technology allows more managed IT environments. This is partly driven by a desire to follow the same successful model used for FDCC. Additional information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/industry/government/solutions/fscc/default.aspx.