Software.net snares $50M contract for Microsoft products

The Defense Logistics Agency has awarded a contract to an Internet-based software store through which it plans to buy $50 million worth of Microsoft Corp. software products.

During the next five years Software.net San Jose Calif. will provide DLA and Defense Department procurement activities with a range of Microsoft products including Windows 95 Windows NT Office 97 BackOffice Project and Exchange. The pact also covers Microsoft's Internet products including the company's Internet Explorer browser Internet Information Server and its FrontPage World Wide Web development tool.

The contract was awarded June 12 but DLA and Software.net announced the pact last week. Software.net will provide licenses and upgrades of Microsoft products serving up to 70 000 DOD desktops. Major software releases will be distributed through "caching" servers that are loaded by Software.net and located in various DOD activities. The company will provide patches and updates to software through the Internet.

The electronic software-distribution service is expected to be fully operational by the end of this month according to John J. Karpovich ADP liaison manager with DLA. He said the Software.net pact will ease the burden of deploying software over thousands of desktops create a common software toolkit across DLA and DOD procurement activities and avoid packaging shipping and installation costs. He said the electronic software-distribution pact by a conservative estimate will allow the government to save $30 million in software-related costs.

Keeping on Top of Things

Electronic distribution also will allow DLA to "keep up with technology as we come out with new versions " said Alison Nelson government account manager for Microsoft's DOD district. She said Microsoft is looking into making beta versions of the company's software available through electronic distribution.

Kendall Fargo director of sales and marketing at Software.net said more agencies are interested in electronic distribution. Given the potential cost savings "there is a real incentive for other agencies to follow along " he said.

Software.net a subsidiary of CyberSource Corp. landed its first federal electronic software-distribution deal in late 1995 when it won the Defense Information Systems Agency's basic ordering agreement to distribute software from Microsoft and about 40 to 50 other publishers. The company last year won a $1.3 million Defense Mapping Agency pact to distribute primarily Microsoft products.

Jeffrey Tarter editor of "SoftLetter " a software-industry newsletter in Watertown Mass. said electronic software distribution is a "major trend " adding that by some indications a third of PC software could be distributed through electronic channels in the next two to three years.

Software.net's DLA contract also will help stage the rollout of the Standard Procurement System which will replace 76 procurement systems across DOD with a single system based on commercially available software and open-systems hardware. American Management Systems Inc. now is developing SPS under a $238 million DOD contract awarded this year. Karpovich said AMS' procurement automation software will be integrated with Microsoft's Office and Project and distributed electronically.

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