Microsoft rolls out Office 365 for Government

Microsoft rolls out Office 365 for Government

Summary: Microsoft has added a multi-tenant version of Office 365 for government users to its hosted app line-up.

TOPICS: Microsoft

As Microsoft officials hinted back in March, the company has rolled out a public-cloud Office 365 offering for U.S. government customers.

The newly announced Office 365 for Government is "a new multi-tenant service that stores US government data in a segregated community cloud," as Microsoft officials described it in a May 30 blog post. Like Microsoft's other Office 365 offerings, it includes Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online and an option for purchasing Office Professional Plus for use locally on PCs.

Microsoft is planning to add support for IPv6 to Office 365 for Government by September 2012, and "we're taking steps to soon support Criminal Justice Information Security (CJIS) policies," with the offering, officials said in today's blog post. These standards will supplement the others already supported by Office 365, including 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), the Softies added.

Before today, Microsoft's primary offering for government customers was Office 365 ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations). Office 365 ITAR isn't a public-cloud play; it is a dedicated service aimed at very large customers which isolated and separated customers in their own locked-down environment. Office 365 ITAR supports FISMA and complies with ITAR regulatory controls and offers Public Trust High Background Investigations of people who manage the data (like its predecessor, BPOS-F).

"Office 365 for Enterprises and Government offer the same level of functionality: Both offer a FISMA package and have best-in-class security, transparency, and compliance features," a Microsoft spokesperson told me. "The difference is that Office 365 for Government has a segregated infrastructure for US government customers. If the customer has no special need to be in a tenant community that only has other US Government tenants, then we recommend staying in our Enterprise cloud. If customer has a special regulatory need to migrate, we will help them do so."

Those interested in Office 365 for Government "can contact their Microsoft representative for details and to explore the service," according to today's blog post.

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Microsoft rolls out Office 365 for Government

    If this isn't free for the Gov't then as a taxpayer, we don't need it. This country (and some states like California), is already in debt thanks to Obama spending spree that has resulted in 88 million unemployed Americans.
    • Why Free?

      It is cheaper to have a hosted solution then to buy all your own hardware, software license, staff, facility, power, etc...the Govt. will save money with hosted solutions.
  • Office365 a new kind of crack-berry

    Microsoft gets them used to Office365, then closes the deal by selling them Office Business. Actually it makes sense. Get the government out of the business of buying expensive computers and expensive one-of-a-kind software applications all the time. Buy cheap Netbooks and do it on the gov-cloud. I would suggest some sort of biometrics sensor like fingerprint or retina scanner. That gets rid of a lot of management issues. Make the netbooks time-out after 10 minutes of inactivity. Lock the netbooks to prevent web browsing, only allow the applications that need to run, etc.

    When the hackers get into the system we can all blame Microsoft.
    • Biometrics aren't the answer

      Your fingerprints and retinal scans are not secret. The stuff they show on TV (whether it's "24" or "Mythbusters") is reasonably accurate - things like fingerprints are pretty easy to forge. And, if your fingerprints (or retinal scans) do get "into the wild", it's hard to revoke to revoke them (like you can the certificates on a smart card) :-).

      Biometrics can be used as part of multi-factor authentication mechanism, but they are even worse than passwords in a single factor design.
      • You must be joking

        [i]Your fingerprints and retinal scans are not secret[/i]
        And where would you get those? Would you cut out a person's eye, or chop his finger off?
        It may just be me, but I would have to believe that the owner of those parts would notice.
        We use biometrics and if you understand how they work, and had the know how and facilities, maybe, just maybe you could fool the less expenise systems.

        Otherwise, getting a fingerprint "in the wild" is not anywhere as easy as CSI and others shows would have you believe.
        Not by a long shot.
        John Zern
      • Biometric Spoofing has been around for a long time

        It's just an interface that can be hacked. You don't actually need the body parts.

        Not easy, but not as difficult as you are making it out to be. Assuming access to the hardware, of course.
      • @John Zern

        Fingerprints are pretty easy to forge and most fingerprint readers are pretty easy to fool.

        Retina scanners are harder to spoof, but not impossible.

        The key to a decent security system is n-factor auth: some things you know, some things you have. Of course, the human resistance to n > 1 the single biggest contributor to the lack of widespread adoption of n-factor auth today.
  • multi-instance

    Not multi-tenant.