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Portland District Moving to Hosted Web Apps

Portland Public Schools in Oregon, the largest district in the state, will adopt Microsoft's Live@edu for its 8,500 staff members and teachers and at least some of its 47,000 students starting in fall 2011. The expectation is that by offering a cloud-based service for communication, the district would remove the expense of local hosting and provide users with anywhere and anytime access to their office applications. Live@edu includes Web-based programs for e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and file storage.

According to CIO Nick Jwayad, the district did a comparison of Microsoft's Web-based suite to Google's Apps for Education and sought advice from research firm Gartner, along with other private and public organizations. "We ended up selecting Live@edu for three primary reasons: support, security, and synthesis," he explained.

"The tools embedded in Live@edu were appealing to us because they made it easier for us to provision accounts to students regardless of age and control or restrict their access in alignment with COPPA. They can only e-mail each other or their teachers or anyone else inside the [district] domain," Jwayad explained in a video interview with Microsoft. "From a security perspective that was appealing."

On the support side, the district wasn't interested in having to go to a third-party to gain support for a Google implementation. "We have an existing service level commitment to our users. [By choosing Live@edu] we would have support from Microsoft that wasn't available to us on the Google side," he said.

Because the district is running other Microsoft systems, it determined that continuing with a Microsoft-based platform and the use of Live@edu as its primary messaging client would, Jwayad said, "enable these systems to talk to each other better."

The new adoption will eventually replace a version of Novell GroupWise that was coming to its end of life.

According to the district's Web site, Microsoft was to pay for the services of an integration partner to assist the district in getting certain aspects of the Live@edu implementation configured.

Plans call for Portland to deploy Live@edu to faculty and staff in the fall and to high school students in the 2011-2012 school year.

"Choosing Live@edu best aligned with the larger technology direction we are taking at Portland where we are working to expand and enrich the tools and services available to our customers," said Jwayad "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."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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