Microsoft Making Defense, DHS Moves?
Recent software licensing moves and the acquisition of Groove Networks have some analysts speculating whether Microsoft is poised to make a major market push in the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.
Last year, the Air Force worked out a deal to consolidate its many software contracts into three enterprise-wide agreements, producing standard configurations that enforce strict security policies for all Microsoft desktop and server software. All personnel will be required to use the configurations. The USAF is hoping to save $100 million over the next 6 years, and according to one government official, the Air Force will make its secure configurations available to the Department of Homeland Security, which will share them with other federal agencies.
Microsoft also acquired Groove Networks on March 10, 2005. Groove makes software designed for secure virtual collaboration among dispersed teams, and the product will be integrated into Microsoft Office. Groove founder Ray Ozzie, who was also a creator of IBM’s Lotus Notes, now joins Microsoft as one of three Chief Technology Officers. In June 2003 Groove received certification with version 2.0 of the DoD Defense Collaboration Tool Suite (DCTS), a standards-based means for collaboration among the U.S. defense and intelligence communities. Groove has a solution called Groove Virtual Office for Government, which allows users to collaborate securely across firewalls within a shared workspace. The government accounts for about 40% of its business, and Groove’s software is a component of the Joint Regional Information Exchange System, used by the Homeland Security Department and state agencies to share information. Other government customers include the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the State Department.
Taken together, these moves may signal a new push by Microsoft to make secure collaboration a larger aspect of its work in the defense and homeland security vertical market.