City of Chicago signs deal with Microsoft for city-wide cloud services

In an effort to move into the 21st century, the city of Chicago has signed a deal with Microsoft to bring the company's Office 365 cloud services to city employees. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the news today, and the city will move 30,000 employees to Microsoft's Office 365 for cloud-based email and other productivity apps.

The City will consolidate its three disparate email systems into one Microsoft Office 365 environment in an effort to improve collaboration, enhance security, and provide both mobile and desktop access. This new strategy will save the city more than $1.3 million in costs over the next four years, which is an 80% decrease in cost per employee.

Mayor Emanuel says that the city is "leveraging new technologies to streamline and modernize the way we do business in order to provide the residents of Chicago with the best service at the best price." Microsoft is currently preparing an update to Office 365 that will include support for its new Office 2013 desktop applications, including the ability for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to stream apps to PCs using Microsoft's cloud offerings.

Chicago isn't the first city to take advantage of Microsoft's services. The city joins a rapidly growing list of state and local governments that are using the services, including San Francisco, the State of California, and Minnesota. Chief Information Officer Brett Goldstein says that the move to cloud services is a "major step" towards modernizing the city.