Microsoft Tailors Office 365 For Government Use

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Microsoft has designed a version of its cloudy Office suite specifically for government use

Microsoft has produced a version of its cloud-based Office suite geared towards governmental use.

The news came in a blog posting by Kirk Koenigsbauer, from the Microsoft Office Division, in which he revealed a version of Office 365 that has been aimed at US government.

Government use

“Today, I’m pleased to announce some great news for government customers in the United States,” wrote Koenigsbauer.

“Office 365 for Government is a new multi-tenant service that stores US government data in a segregated community cloud,” wrote Koenigsbauer. “Like other Office 365 offerings, it includes productivity and collaboration services including Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Office Professional Plus.”

He urged interested parties to contact their Microsoft representative for details on the new version and to explore the service.

And Koenigsbauer was also keen to stress its adherence to security standards.

“We also know that security and privacy play a big role in any decision to move to the cloud,” wrote Koenigsbauer. “Today, Office 365 supports the most rigorous global and regional standards such as ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, EU Safe Harbor, EU Model Clauses, the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the US Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the US Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).”

This came after Microsoft decided in December 2011 to add compliance to European Union data privacy regulations and the HIPAA to its Office 365 platform, in order to demonstrate it would protect user information and ensure privacy.

“To meet evolving needs, we also plan to support IPv6 in Office 365 for Government by September of this year, and we’re taking steps to soon support Criminal Justice Information Security (CJIS) policies,” Koenigsbauer promised.

Cloud competition

Microsoft first announced Office 365 in the autumn of 2010, and the software was finally made available to the public in June 2011.

Since then the company continues to grow the software, but it still faces intense competition from Google, which recently received ISO 27001 accreditation for its Apps line-up of products. Indeed, such is the competition between the two that Google actually sued the US Department of Interior (DoI) in October 2010 in the US Court of Federal Claims.

Google claimed at the time that the US government agency had set its sights on Microsoft without pursuing alternatives such as the rival Google Apps suite. However, Google dropped the lawsuit against the DoI in September 2011.

Other Office 365 hiccups came last year when millions of users were stranded by a global outage caused by DNS problems in September. This followed on from an earlier outage in August 2011.

But these problems seemingly did not affect the popularity of Office 365 and in March this year Microsoft announced it had cut the cost of its cloud productivity suite, claiming that its rapidly growing business was to thank for the reduction.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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