Officials at ElectionMall Technologies Inc. are counting on cloud computing to help achieve company’s the goal of giving candidates-from those running for national positions to candidates in school board elections-the tools they need to manage efficient and effective political campaigns.

The company, founded in 1999, has migrated its suite of Web-based campaign and election applications to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and formally released Version 2 of the suite, called Campaign Cloud, this week.

“This is the first campaign platform as a service,” Ravi Singh, ElectionMall’s chief executive officer, told Breaking Gov.

ElectionMall has successfully piloted a beta version of the platform for about year, with both Democratic and Republican state party campaigns using it in their campaigns, Singh said.

Moving ElectionMall’s suite of applications-including tools for raising campaign funds, generating votes and increasing voter awareness-to Microsoft’s Azure platform will have a major impact on campaign users, Singh said.

“I think it’s a paradigm shift,” he said. “I believe cloud will change the way we do politics in terms of generating awareness with voters” and making it easier for supporters to donate money online.

Campaign Cloud also will let users quickly scale up and down, reflecting the rhythms of the election and campaign processes, at no additional cost.

“We are allowing unlimited users, really thanks to Azure,” Singh said. “Azure allows us to scale [and be] cost effective. We could never have done that in a non-traditional, non-cloud computing infrastructure. If a school board mom has 10 people working on her campaign and all of the sudden she gains momentum in the last month, and she now has 500, it’s not going to cost any more. That’s really the power of the cloud.”

The ability to store critical information in the cloud also will be a big benefit for campaigns. “They’ll never have to worry about where their voter or donor data is ever again,” Singh said. “Johnny the Webmaster isn’t always going to be on the computer looking at Excel [spreadsheets]. Those days are going to be gone, and that’s a big transformation.”

Moreover, offering the cost-effective option of a wide range of tools in the cloud also will help “democratize” the campaign and election process, especially for small player, officials at Microsoft said.

“Local folks running for office don’t always have the wherewithal and the resources to put together a professional campaign,” said Stan Freck, director of cloud computing for Microsoft’s U.S. Public Sector. “What this really does is democratize the process so the small player can play big. There is no reason a small mom and pop campaign or grassroots campaign for an issue can’t have the best tools available.”

Campaign Cloud furnishes end-to-end campaign services, including tools to build a Web presence; manage communications and collaboration with staff, donors and volunteers; raise money online and manage a donor base; promote awareness with e-mail, phone, text and online advertising, and via social networks; and manage get-out-the-vote efforts.

Microsoft officials say the company’s partnership with ElectionMall-announced in June 2010-represented an ideal strategic fit at a time when Microsoft had been looking to make inroads into the political space.

“Just prior to the 2010 election cycle we looked across the vendor space and found an awfully fragmented market,” Freck said. “There are a lot of people out there building interesting little solutions, but not a lot of people are integrating across [applications] that would be necessary to entire campaign. Election Mall stood out. They had a vision and a view of providing the equivalent of an office suite for campaigns.”

“ElectionMall’s concept was very simple,” said Singh, referring to the market strategy behind Election Mall’s launch in 1999. “We created a one-stop shop to provide technology for campaigns.”

While already offers a host of campaign applications and services, the move to the cloud will generate even more tools for users as the company has invited software developers to offer their applications via the site, creating an even bigger campaign marketplace, he added.

Down the road, Campaign Cloud’s tools may prove useful for government agencies for non-political purposes, Freck said.

“We’ve touched this around the edges in our discussions-how this can be leveraged by a federal agency,” he said. “They might not use all the pieces but you could imagine a programmatic approach for an agency that wants to reach out and engage citizens.”

Kim Nelson, executive director for e-government at Microsoft, said suggested that the platform could be used for issue campaigns by agencies.

“Clearly, the federal government has a responsibility for educating the citizenry and that’s what these tools can do-help spread the word and organize the delivery of a message,” she said. “Federal agencies do educational campaigns on a regular basis so these kinds of tools could fit with that as well. Any public-service messages would be an appropriate use too.”