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Microsoft Introduces Office 365 'Community Cloud' for U.S. Government

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June 01, 2012

Microsoft Introduces Office 365 'Community Cloud' for U.S. Government

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

Cloud services can streamline installation and reduce operational costs for enterprises, as well as increase efficiencies with network consolidation, simplifying IT administration. Microsoft (News - Alert) Office 365, the hosted platform for the Microsoft Office suite of applications, is being widely adopted by the industry for exactly these reasons. 

Now, Microsoft is turning its attention to Uncle Sam with the introduction of the aptly named, Office 365 for Government. According to Microsoft, this rendition of Office 365 places U.S. government data in the safe embrace of the cloud via its own separate “community cloud.”

“Office 365 for Government is a new multi-tenant service that stores U.S. government data in a segregated community cloud,” Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office Division, explained in a recent blog post. “Like other Office 365 offerings, it includes productivity and collaboration services including Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online, and Office Professional Plus.”

With security and privacy playing a pivotal role in any decision to move to the cloud, Microsoft also assures that the service supports the “most rigorous global and regional standards,” including ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, EU Safe Harbor, the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the U.S. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). 

Microsoft has already signed state and local governments to use Office 365, including California, Minnesota, San Francisco, Newark, N.J. and Plano, Texas, Information Week reported.

“This version of its Software- as- a- Service is aimed at the federal market, where cloud service provides must satisfy a handful of regulatory requirements to do business,” the report said.

Looking ahead, Microsoft also plans to support IPv6 in Office 365 for Government by September of this year, and is taking steps to be able to support Criminal Justice Information Security (CJIS) policies. 

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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