Santa Clara County, Calif., announced Wednesday, Aug. 22, it will upgrade and consolidate its email systems and move into the cloud. By using the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 system, Santa Clara will combine email systems that include more than 15,000 employees from 26 departments and embrace document sharing and other collaboration tools.

“We selected Office 365 because it addressed a wide spectrum of county needs,” CIO Joyce Wing said. “The selection of this solution and our IT consolidation efforts have enabled us to nearly double the number of employees covered and will provide our staff with new tools and collaboration technologies to help better serve our residents. Now our staff will be able to move forward collaboratively and take advantage of many new capabilities.”

The county cited several benefits of a unified, cloud-based email system, including “better visibility of IT assets, improved mission performance, better governance and control over IT spending,” and “the ability to leverage buying power as a large organization.” The county also said it intends for increased collaboration to lead to reduced redundancy and costs.

The county said it's paying $3.6 million annually for the product, which will cover the entire government workforce. Under a previous solution, only half of the workforce was covered for a $3.3 million contract that was selected through a competitive bidding process.

Google, one of Microsoft's chief competitors, is headquartered in Santa Clara County.