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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer  (Source: intomobile)
New contract saves DOD licensing fees, gives it access to Windows 8, Sharepoint 2013, and Office 2013

David L. DeVries has a tough job, serving as a deputy chief information officer (CIO) of one of the world's largest and most high tech organizations -- the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).  Mr. DeVries made a bold move signing a new three-year enterprise licensing deal with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to adopt Windows 8 and other cutting edge products.

I. Armed Forces Hop Onboard Windows 8

Given its touch-friendly user interface and consumer focus many power users, analysts, and tech enthusiasts expressed concerns about how the new Microsoft operating system would fare in the enterprise space.  Indeed, even in the consumer sector reports have been mixed regarding the platform's sales health.

While the DOD pickup is unlikely to silence the critics, it is a major score for Microsoft.  While its deployment may take a year or two, the DOD is the largest organization to commit to shifting at least some of its users onto the new Microsoft platform.
Windows 8 Surface
The DOD is reloading with Microsoft Windows 8. [Image Source: Microsoft]

The deal also is good for Microsoft's latest and greatest secure networking software, including Sharepoint 2013.  Also included is Microsoft's latest Office 2013 software, which launched in December.

Mr. DeVries comments, "How do we bring about better effectiveness for the warfighter, better improved security on the networks ... while reducing the cost of ownership?  We are the largest corporation out there, comprised of four military services. … No one comes close to our scale, so when we talk about something that produces a standardized way of buying, installing and maintaining [enterprise software], that’s a huge deal."

"There’s a move afoot throughout the department to bring about efficiencies in the [information technology] world.  We took a long, hard look at it … realizing that the Department of Defense relies upon the network and upon information technology to do its business."

The arrangement seems mutually beneficial.  For the DOD they will consolidate multiple smaller licenses from the four military service branches into a single, more stable contract.  The DOD estimates this will save "tens of millions over the course of several years through lower license and software assurance costs."

Microsoft, meanwhile gains a high profile advocate of its embattled Windows 8, should save some overhead on its end as well via consolidation, and safeguards itself against the volatility of multiple smaller contracts.

II. Commanders Praise Microsoft's Focus on Mobility

While some view Microsoft's newfound zeal for mobility to be a massive headache from an information technology perspective, Navy Rear Adm. David G. Simpson, DISA’s vice director and senior procurement executive, argues that for organizations willing to embrace the future it is a massive opportunity.

U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy commanders expressed excitement at Microsoft's new mobile focus, which they view as perfect for their highly mobile service force. [Image Source:]

He comments, "The agreement] recognizes the shift to mobility.  Microsoft is committed to making sure that the technology within the agreement has a mobile-first focus, and we expect to begin to take advantage of Microsoft's mobile offerings as part of our enterprise mobility ecosystem.  Bottom line: lower price for greater value."

The press release did not mention Microsoft's smartphone platform Windows Phone.   However, it is known that the DOD is currently working on mobile device management (MDM) software to support other platforms besides Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (TSE:RIM) fading BlackBerry platform, which comprises most of its current issued handsets.

Of course DOD IT sentiments should not necessarily be viewed as indicative of those of the greater IT community at large.  The U.S. Army infamously committed to the much-criticized Windows Vista, back in 2009, declining to move on to the latest Windows 7 release.


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By Master Kenobi on 1/3/2013 1:56:03 PM , Rating: 5
Seeing as the DOD just upgraded to Windows 7 in mid 2012, you can bet Windows 8 isn't anywhere on the implementation schedule. We will likely continue to use the license to install the standard Windows 7 image as Microsoft does not license "older" versions of windows. It's up to the customer to "downgrade" on their own. That is how Microsoft signs "Enterprise Agreements" these days.

Here's a fun prediction, Windows 8 won't grace any production DOD system until 2014 and that will likely be for the "pilot group".

As for Sharepoint, that will likely have a much quicker rollout as it is actually useful and less of an issue to implement.

RE: Unlikely
By othercents on 1/3/2013 2:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
Sharepoint and Office 2013. I think the DoD was more interested in Office 2013 for "security updates". However there might be a case that the DoD will add in Windows RT in some cases where the user only needs email and Office capability.


RE: Unlikely
By Mitch101 on 1/3/2013 3:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
SharePoint 2013 contains both the 14 (2010) and 15 (2013) hives so you can Migrate SharePoint 2010 sites into SharePoint 2013 and allow the site owners to decide when to update their site to 2013.

There is even preview abilities for you to take your 2010 site and run a test 2013 version of it.

The best part of about some of this is SharePoint is very modular so you can have Search and Office web apps providing the enhanced functions from SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint 2010 servers/users.

RE: Unlikely
By nafhan on 1/3/2013 5:28:54 PM , Rating: 2
This is the best analysis of what's actually going to happen.
Similar situation where I work (we're an order of magnitude smaller than the DoD, though).

The real news here is that MS just gave the DoD a huge licensing discount. Taxpayers just saved some money.

RE: Unlikely
By spamreader1 on 1/3/2013 6:04:52 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, this more than likely is a change in how their EA works so that their SA and account is more easily managed. They could easily have just reduced the DOD's Microsoft software licensing personnel from a few hundred to a few people. With SA they have the freedom to use what they want, when and where they want without extra licensing burdens.

RE: Unlikely
By djc208 on 1/3/2013 6:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, our facility is still running XP, let alone windows 7, so I wouldn't expect to see 8 hit many DOD systems soon.

The other note I'll add is that this license is usually much like that for universities in that the license also allows employees free or reduced access to some or all of those programs for home/home office use.

RE: Unlikely
By Quadrillity on 1/4/2013 9:23:55 AM , Rating: 2
Hit the nail on the head right there.

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