Microsoft Lands Air Force Contract With $500 Million Potential

The contract is part of an overall agreement with Dell Computer, which will supply more than 525,000 software licenses for desktop computers and servers.

"Our group will work directly with the Air Force," said Al Horowitz, general manager, Microsoft public sector services. With security as a driver of the contract, he added that improved security will be integrated across the board among Air Force users globally.

While the announcement centered on the software side of the contract, details on the hardware side weren't released, although Microsoft did say that the agreement includes some hardware presumably to be supplied by Dell. Curt Kolcun, general manager for Microsoft Federal, noted that Dell is acting in the position of "the large account reseller" in the contract.

Microsoft will provide core server software including Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Systems Management Server, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server.

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By consolidating 38 previously-established software license agreements, the Air Force will be able to implement standard software configurations across the service's global operations. "By consolidating purchases of software and hardware products across its enterprise, the Air Force will be able to enhance IT operations globally through better management, policies and planning," Kolcun added.

The software part of the contract will be provided in part by Microsoft enterprise strategic consultants and technical account managers who will work with Air Force personnel, Microsoft said, noting that by consolidating the existing 38 disparate software licenses into a single enterprise, the service can acquire new software from a single source.

A goal of improving security runs through the announcement, which stated: "Also core to this strategic agreement is a highly proactive effort by the Air Force and Microsoft to jointly work to solve security concerns across the Air Force's global enterprise."

Included in the agreement is a provision for Air Force personnel to use Microsoft software at home as well as at work. In such cases, Microsoft said licensed copies of "select Office desktop applications" can be acquired at a nominal cost.

Also supported by the agreement are additional Department of Defense organizations including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and various Joint Combatant Commands.