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Portland Public Schools Move to Microsoft Cloud Platform

At Microsoft's 9th annual U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit in Redmond, Wash., the company announced that Portland Public Schools will soon switch its faculty, staff and students to Microsoft's Live@edu cloud computing platform. Approximately 8,500 faculty and staff will start using the service this fall, and high school students will follow during the 2011-12 school year. Portland Public Schools is the largest school district in the Pacific Northwest, with approximately 47,000 students in 85 schools.

Nick Jwayad, chief information officer at Portland Public Schools, said at the summit that Microsoft's Live@edu platform seemed like the best fit for the larger technology direction Portland is currently taking. "Live@edu promises to enhance the services we currently provide to teachers, broaden the reach of services to students and reduce our costs by at least a third," he said.

Over a third of the state of Oregon is already enrolled in Live@edu, including the following school districts: Ashland Public Schools, Columbia Gorge, Coos Bay School District, Phoenix Talent School District, McMinnville School District, Redmond School District, St. Cecilia School and Sisters School District.

The Seattle Times' Sharon Chan reports that Portland Public Schools is currently using Novell GroupWise software, which Microsoft's service will replace. "Providing cloud services for public agencies is an area of intense competition right now, with announcements about new customers and lawsuits flying back and forth," Chan writes. "In January, Microsoft sued former employee Matthew Miszewski, who sold software and services to government customers, for taking what Microsoft said was a similar job at competitor Salesforce.com. Google recently sued the U.S. Department of the Interior for choosing Microsoft, saying the agency had failed to fairly consider Google's competing bid."

In a blog post, Sig Behrens, Microsoft's General Manager for U.S. Education, noted that the company had also recently signed up Vanderbilt University, the University of Albany, and the Fashion of Institute Technology for Live@edu, along with several K-12 schools. "With drastically shrinking budgets, Live@edu enables schools to reduce costs and drive improved teaching and learning in the classroom," Behrens wrote. "[Live@edu] also helps students become familiar with productivity tools like Office, which they are likely to encounter in their future careers."