Just after the nation honored its veterans on Veterans Day, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has announced it is moving ahead on a multi-million dollar project that will roll out email and calendaring services using Microsoft Office 365 to its 600,000 users. VA has awarded the five-year, $36 million contract to HP Enterprises Services, which will modernize the department's systems.

The overall move to Office 365 for Government will be a gradual process that will begin with 15,000 people and eventually expand to include everybody attached to the department. This shift gives more credence to the power of Office 365 and the cloud, and it's a big opportunity for HP. It's also a strong indicator of continued skyrocketing growth in the cloud, which can only lead to more opportunities for resellers and cloud services providers.

Under the agreement, HP will take the lead on implementing Office 365 across the department to "enhance reliability, security, privacy and compliance as well as create geographically diverse disaster recovery." The project falls under the Cloud-First federal mandate. According to HP, it will improve employee productivity and collaboration while reducing VA's costs.

"Together with the VA and Microsoft, the HP team will modernize the VA's communications infrastructure while lowering costs and setting the stage for other U.S. government agencies to enter the cloud era," said Marilyn Crouther, senior vice president and general manager for U.S. public sector for HP Enterprise Services, in a prepared statement.

Contracts like this show that the federal government's Cloud-First mandate is starting to take off and show results. This win may not feed directly into the channel, but opportunities are already starting to take shape -- and will continue to come forward -- that partners are able to play a role in. Potential revenue is there, and more of it is coming.