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Microsoft to Offer U.S. Government Cloud Productivity through Office 365 Offerings

Microsoft seems to be working on a new Office 365 SKU that is aimed specifically at the U.S. government customers — according to a March 1, blog post by Curt Kolcun – V.P., Microsoft U.S. Public Sector, on the FutureFed, who blogged that another SKU was in the works for Office 365.

Microsoft had already with its Business Productivity Online (BPOS) suite — offered government customers a BPOS-F (Federal) SKU along with BPOS-S (Standard) and BPOS-D (Dedicated) SKUs. “Physical access to those (BPOS Federal) systems is limited by biometric access controls to a small number of individuals who, in compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), must be citizens of the United States who have undergone rigorous background checks, including fingerprinting,” according to a Microsoft press release announcing BPOS-F last year.

The March 1 post described this as a “government community cloud for our US customers” but offered no further timing or details:

“Today we offer our customers the choice between Office 365 public or private cloud solutions hosted in a dedicated ITAR or multi-tenant environment. We’re also committed to delivering a government community cloud for our US customers. We’re proud of the work we’ve done and are doing to ensure all Office 365 offerings support industry standards such as ISO 27001, SSAE 16, HIPAA and FISMA/FedRAMP. For those customers who prefer to build and manage their own private cloud infrastructures, we’ve empowered them to do so with tools like Windows Server with Hyper-V and System Center,” posted Kolcun.

Adding, “As government cloud requirements evolve, so will Microsoft’s portfolio. We’re committed to providing customers with the broadest options based on government requirements such as FedRAMP,” he said.

In first quoted para, the dedicated ITAR refers to Microsoft’s private-cloud, on-premises Office 365 offering, anchored by Windows Server. This is currently the closes equivalent to BPOS-F that Microsoft has for Office 365 customers. The coming “government community cloud” seems to be something different, and more like the Microsoft BPOS-F hosted offering.

“A government community cloud for US customers will enable customer data to be stored in separate, government-only environment. Our intent is to provide for unique government requirements such as FISMA and FedRAMP as customers require it,” a spokesperson told MJF.

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