While many federal agencies have been defecting from RIM’s BlackBerry to iOS devices, the Department of Veterans Affairs seems poised to make a much more dramatic transition. The agency recently canceled its participation in Microsoft’s Software Assurance program. While the move isn’t likely to mean the VA is replacing all of its PCs with Macs, it may signal a significant transition to non-Microsoft mobile devices like the iPad.
Software assurance is a program that allows companies purchasing volume licenses of Microsoft products (Windows, Windows Server, Exchange, and Office being the big ticket items) with assurance of free updates and support for a three year window.
Although the VA has been somewhat tight-lipped about the decision, the statements by VA CIO Roger Baker seem to indicate that the agency is looking to mobile platforms for more of its solutions.
… the market for desktop and server software is changing, with substantial impact from both cloud service providers and personal mobile devices…
The VA implemented a pilot project for iOS devices last year, which may be partially due to the popularity of the iPhone and iPad among physicians and other healthcare professionals (who make up a significant percentage of VA staff). The pilot ended positively and it is likely that more extensive testing of iOS devices is in the works.
The news could indicate a blow of Microsoft’s efforts to position Windows 8 tablets as iPad alternatives. That could portend a significant preference for the iPad and iOS in healthcare rather than Windows 8 or Windows on ARM (WOA) devices. Private sector healthcare organizations and individual physicians have generally seen the iPad as a positive tool in their practices.
The move follows the announcementby U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel that 2012 will be the “year of mobile” for the federal government.