CXO

Microsoft opens portals for governments

Solutions Sharing Network lets government entities post their own tips, procedures and even in-house software.

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By Ina Fried
CNET News.com

Microsoft is trying to help governments stop reinventing the digital wheel.

As part of its many programs designed to keep government customers happy, the software giant has set up what it calls the Solutions Sharing Network, essentially a series of portals that government entities can use to post their own tips, procedures and even in-house software.

There is no cost to the governments that set up the site and the tools that they provide are also free to other governments that wish to adopt them. For example, the London Borough of Newham has posted a customer relationship management application that it developed.

"There is no restriction from Microsoft on what's hosted," said Oliver Bell, the program manager for the project.

So in theory, a government could post its own Linux implementation?

"They could do that," Bell said, but added, "I'm not expecting them to."

There are now 13 governments or municipal organizations that have live sites, and Bell said Microsoft hopes to have 200 such sites a year from now.

"We're increasingly having conversations with government customers that follow similar themes," Bell said. "One of those themes is the pressure governments are feeling to deliver services more quickly."

Microsoft began developing the program last spring and in September a Dutch city set up a prototype site. Partner Kanalytics is helping the governments set up the sites, which are based on Microsoft's SharePoint portal server software.

The move follows other efforts by Microsoft to ingratiate itself with local, regional and national governments. Other efforts include a program to translate Microsoft software into more languages and the Government Security Program, which gives government entities a peek at Microsoft code.

"It's a natural extension to some of the work we've been doing with some of those programs," Bell said.

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