Microsoft, BearingPoint team to target governments

Microsoft Corp. is teaming with systems integration and consulting firm BearingPoint Inc. to deliver a set of software and services packages aimed at governments.

The companies said Monday that they plan to develop packages in the areas of program management, electronic-document filing, e-government, Web services, national security, public pension administration and independent software vendor bundles based on Microsoft’s enterprise software. The IT packages will be aimed at national and local governments worldwide, the companies said.

The partnership is not Microsoft’s first with BearingPoint, and underscores the software maker’s push to win more of the lucrative public sector market. BearingPoint has a strong client base and experience in the public sector, so it would make sense for Microsoft to team with the McLean, Va., firm, according to RedMonk LLC analyst James Governor.

“The public sector has been a pretty hot market for the last 18 months and Microsoft obviously wants to position itself in that context,” Governor said.

The companies already rolled out an eFiling for Courts package in March, which helps courts implement electronic-filing systems, and have worked on putting together packages for state governments in areas such as transportation and online retirement services, according to Lawrence Herman, BearingPoint’s managing director in charge of state and local government solutions and alliances.

In addition to making advantageous partnerships, Redmond, Wash.-based, Microsoft has also been pursuing government sector contracts with larger sales teams, and key public sector executives. Just last month, the company nabbed the SuSE Linux AG account manager who convinced the Munich city government to switch from Microsoft to Linux.

The public sector push is key for Microsoft given the market created by new compliance regulations, and the enlargement of the European Union (E.U.), Governor said. Ten new Eastern European countries joined the union May 1, and as members they must meet E.U. guidelines on projects such as e-government and other IT-heavy services.

Microsoft and BearingPoint will be targeting these new E.U. members with the packages, along with other emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa, Herman said. Although it is a four-year, global agreement, the packages will be rolled out gradually, with the initial focus on target emerging markets, he said.

Many of the packages will be available within the next six to seven months, Herman added. Pricing will vary according to the government and scope of the contract, Herman said.

Although Herman acknowledged that some emerging markets have been considering Linux-based solutions due to price concerns, he said that his company is still seeing strong support for Microsoft software in the public sector.

“Microsoft has tremendous traction in the markets we are talking about because it is known as a stable platform and is already known in schools and cybercafes,” Herman said.

Under the agreement, the companies will also be jointly investing in marketing, technical training, solutions co-development, solution centre upgrades and sales support and events, they said.

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