Agriculture Dept. planting new collaboration tool

Tuesday - 12/7/2010, 6:00am EST

Collaboration is growing on the Department of Agriculture.

The USDA is moving some of its collaboration tools -- including email and document sharing -- to a new cloud infrastructure to save money and improve efficiency. CIO Chris Smith says the move will consolidate 21 different messaging and collaboration systems into one.

"This is really about increasing collaboration and communications across the breadth of 120,000 users in 5,000 offices across the country and 100 countries around the globe to better deliver on the USDA's mission," Smith said in a statement.

Government Computer News says the move to Microsoft is another indication of a growing trend by agencies to turn to cloud services while the economy is weak.

The USDA plans to start the shift within the next four weeks. The deployment will include Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting.