Take That Google! MN Opts for Microsoft Office Online

Google (s GOOG) made a big splash with its deal with the city of Los Angeles for its Google Apps. Microsoft (s MSFT), it seems, has offered up a counterpunch. The State of Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) today announced that it will work with Microsoft and use its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), making Minnesota the first U.S. state to move to a large collaboration and communication suite in a private cloud environment.

Minnesota Chief Information Officer Gopal Khanna noted in a press release:

As states battle growing deficits, they are continually being asked to do more with less. Rethinking the way we manage our digital infrastructure centrally, to save locally across all units of government, is a crucial part of the solution. The private sector has utilized technological advancements like cloud computing to realize operational efficiencies for some time now. Government must follow suit.

Email, instant messaging, web-based collaboration and conferencing are all included in the agreement and will be provided through Microsoft’s online hosting at significantly lower rates than the state can currently offer.

The move will greatly reduce redundancy and save the State of Minnesota millions in upgrade investments and ongoing costs. Microsoft, it seems, has done a good job of alleviating state’s concerns about security, according to Khanna. For the end-users, the most notable change will be increased email capacity — from 100 MB to 5GB per user — and better collaboration that would allow them to switch easily between email, SharePoint, Instant Messaging and conferencing.

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