Microsoft to host cloud services for USDA

Tuesday - 12/28/2010, 6:02pm EST

The U.S. Department of Agriculture now has a blooming relationship with Microsoft.

Earlier this month, Microsoft and the USDA reached an agreement to have Microsoft host email for as many as 120,000 employees.

The company will also manage the USDA’s software and networks, as part of the agreement.

USDA employees currently use 21 different email systems at the agency’s 5,000 offices around the world. The agency hopes to start moving employees to Microsoft’s hosted service within the next month.

Employees will also have access to other Microsoft applications, such as SharePoint, Office Communications – an instant messaging service, and Live Meeting – a web-conferencing application.

“This migration is the culmination of USDA’s effort to streamline agency messaging, reduce costs and improve efficiencies that build on existing infrastructure and allow USDA to extend its on-premises software investments to the cloud solution,” Microsoft and the USDA said in a joint statement.

The agreement is a big deal for Microsoft, who recently lost a contract with the General Services Administration to host email.

Also this month, Microsoft announced it had achieved certification under the Federal Information Security Management Act.

The USDA isn’t alone in its decision to use Microsoft. Minnesota, California and New York City have all chosen Microsoft for cloud-based email.