As the US Government’s appetite for cloud services hits a marked upswing, Microsoft has opened a Microsoft Office 365 community cloud specifically for federal agencies to move their productivity and collaboration apps to the cloud.
Office 365 for Government, as Microsoft is calling it, contains the entire roster of Microsoft productivity solutions, including Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online, and Office Professional Plus.
Microsoft can already boast compliance with 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) standards.
But governmental customers need more than just basic security competencies: Federal agencies need the assurances that their data is being kept in separate facilities from the general public’s. This community cloud is designed to ensure that sensitive government data is only co-mingled with other sensitive government data, minimizing the chance of a leak, whether accidental or the result of an attack.
IPv6 in Office 365 for Government will be added by September of this year, and Microsoft will soon support Criminal Justice Information Security (CJIS) policies, writes Kirk Koenigsbauer in an official blog entry.
In other cloud security news, the competition over at Google Apps got its own ISO 27001 certification this week – and has offered a dedicated government cloud hosted application platform for almost two years now.
There’s still plenty of doubt around the security of the public cloud. But Microsoft itself has spent a lot of money convincing SMBs that they’ll actually see an uptick in their baseline data security if they go to Office 365. If they’re going after government customers with this community cloud, Microsoft is going to have to be ready to make a heck of a sales pitch.