Microsoft at its U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit announces a government-focused version of its Business Productivity Online Suite emphasizing security and privacy. Microsoft expects the federal version of BPOS to attain Federal Information Security Management Act certification within the next six months. Microsoft is promoting its cloud-based government offerings at a time when its competitors in the cloud space, including Google and Amazon.com, are also jockeying for federal contracts to provide IT services.
Microsoft announced security and privacy enhancements for its Business
Productivity Online Suite, along with a government-focused version of BPOS, Feb.
24 during the eighth annual Microsoft U.S. Public Sector CIO
Summit. BPOS Federal has been designed to fulfill the stringent security and
privacy requirements of U.S.
federal government agencies, the company said.
In addition to including the certifications and security features of the
standard version of BPOS, the federal version will be housed on dedicated
infrastructure in secured facilities, and will be accessible only via biometric
access controls by U.S.
citizens who have undergone the necessary background checks to access the
system. Theoretically, this brings the offering in line with the needs of
agencies and contractors that require extremely high levels of security
protocols and features.
Microsoft said it expects the platform to attain FISMA (Federal
Information Security Management Act) certification at some point within the
next six months.
"The reason that governments in 48 of the 50 U.S. states have chosen
from our Microsoft Online Services for offerings is in large part because our
offerings are built from the ground up with enterprise-grade security and
privacy in mind," Curt Kolcun, vice president of Microsoft U.S. Public
Sector, said in a statement.
According to the announcement during the summit, BPOS meets a wide number of
industry standards for privacy and security, including International
Organization for Standardization 27001, Statement on Auditing Standards 70
Type 1 and Type II, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act),
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Title 21 CFR
Part 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Information Processing
Standard 140-2, and Trusted Internet Connections compliance.
Microsoft said it expects to provide new updates to these online services
approximately every 90 days.
The company is currently facing a challenge
in the area of online services for government from Google,
which has closed
a number of deals with entities such as the city of Los
Angeles to deploy its own cloud-based software. Google
also plans to create a dedicated
federal cloud computing system in 2010.
The government cloud will include the
cloud-based Google Apps productivity suite as a replacement for IBM
Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Office SharePoint.
On Sept. 15, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra
announced the opening of the Apps.gov
Web store, where IT providers such as
Google can offer cloud-based IT services for purchase by federal agencies. Amazon.com
CTO Werner Vogels also indicated
at the time that his company was
positioning itself as a cloud services provider for the federal government.