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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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RE: Our tax dollars at work
By retrospooty on 1/3/2013 2:12:56 PM , Rating: 3
Yup... that is one shining example of what goes on everywhere. The DOD did that, and another govt. branch buys 200 standard wooden handle hammers at $199 each, while another pays 8x the going rate for carpet to have the office re-carpeted. Why? The software maker, tool manufacturer and carpet company paid hefty campaign contributions to both dems and reps in congress to vote their way when needed and grant lucrative contracts to... That is where our money goes. Its not really "mis-spending" and "inefficiency" so much as it is downright crime.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By chripuck on 1/3/2013 2:41:52 PM , Rating: 1
You clearly have no clue how budgeting works in any large organization, government or otherwise.

The facts are as simple as this: if you don't use your budget in full this year, it WILL be reduced next year. What commanding officer, SVP or other leader wants their allotment of the pie to be smaller? None, so they spend it on anything they can so that their budget stays the same.

There are no shadow organizations, lobbyists don't have direct access to the DoD and a few senators don't have the collective push to force someone who reports to the President to do their bidding. Stop drinking the kool-aid...

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By retrospooty on 1/3/2013 2:54:39 PM , Rating: 5
Direct access? No. Push with purchasing decisions? Hell yes they do. The govt. is FULL of gross mis-spending at all levels. The benefit going to govt. officials corporate "sponsors". If you can't see that, then I would say its you that needs to stop drinking the kool-aid.

"if you don't use your budget in full this year, it WILL be reduced next year"

This is true to an extent, but doesn't justify buying $400 toilet seat covers.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By ebakke on 1/3/2013 3:53:01 PM , Rating: 2
<quote they spend it on anything they can so that their budget stays the same. I don't disagree with your analysis on what happens. However, this is exactly why we need across the board cuts. Let's start with 10-15% of every department.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By Zuul on 1/3/2013 3:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
I agree - often people completely do not understand how budgeting works.

I'm just glad they actually bought something they could use. In a few places i've worked, some teams will have extra budget at the end of the year and end up buying things like pickup trucks that they just dump in the middle of some mudhole so they don't lose that part of their budget.

If you have a surplus in your budget, they simply deduct that surplus out of your budget next year. The incentive to save money happens at the transactional level while there's no incentive to save at a budget level. A few companies have been looking at zero-based budgeting. However, that puts significant administrative burden because before you get dollars, you have to justify every dollar spent upfront. In theory it sounds good, in practice, it prevents the company from being more nimble and prolongs the procurement cycle.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By 91TTZ on 1/3/2013 4:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
In other words, there's no massive conspiracy to waste the taxpayers' money, it's just good old fashioned greed combined with a budgeting system designed to encourage continuously increased spending.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By Zaranthos on 1/3/2013 5:11:05 PM , Rating: 3
Mmm, kool-aid. Because our massive debt shouldn't make anyone think about spending less because spending more is the best thing for the country. Fail.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By timothyd97402 on 1/3/2013 3:41:11 PM , Rating: 2
Do much research first or just spout off with anecdotes that have been floating around for years? I am sick of government bashing clods tearing down our country.

There probably is a graft, corruption, wink and nod going on. If you have any evidence there are whistleblower hotlines to call. If you don't why are you posting?

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By retrospooty on 1/3/2013 3:45:03 PM , Rating: 2

Do you really think this stuff happens by accident?

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By Paj on 1/4/2013 7:21:03 AM , Rating: 4
But hey, its OK to fund the military industrial complex and make a bunch of cool planes and stuff, amirite?

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