VA Considers Moving Email, Office Software to the Cloud

Bob Brewin | Nextgov | February 22, 2012

The Veterans Affairs Department plans to test email and other office software in a cloud computing environment and to try out potentially lower cost alternatives to Microsoft Office products -- such as Google Apps -- in two pilot projects set to kick off this year.

VA announced both projects in notices to industry posted Friday to the FedBizOpps website. The department asked vendors to detail their approaches in white papers submitted by March 15. The Cloud-Based Office Automation and Collaboration Pilot will include off-premises hosting of email, word processing, presentation, database and spreadsheet software. VA currently provides Microsoft Office to 300,000 employees through software installed on hard drives of desktop or laptop computers.

The department said it wants to test cloud versions of collaboration tools, including real-time instant messaging, endpoint-to-endpoint audio, screen sharing, and collaborative writing and document editing. This project includes user-controlled Web portals and information-sharing websites and Web-based applications similar to Microsoft SharePoint. It will run for a six-to-12 month period starting this year...