Microsoft unveils a locked-down, hosted app bundle for U.S. government customers

Microsoft unveils a locked-down, hosted app bundle for U.S. government customers

Summary: Microsoft is rolling out a new version of its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) tailored specifically for federal government users, the company announced on February 24 during the kick-off of its annual CIO Summit in Redmond.

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Microsoft is rolling out a new version of its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) tailored specifically for federal government users, the company announced on February 24 during the kick-off of its annual CIO Summit in Redmond.

The new bundle is known as Business Productivity Online Suite Federal. No, this is not related to the still-unannounced BPOS Lite offering I wrote about recently. This is something aimed at government contractors "and others that require the highest levels of security features and protocols," according to the Softies. The new Federal offering will be sold directly by Microsoft, as well as by its Large Account Resellers and federal resellers.

BPOS Federal is a security-enhanced version of the current BPOS product. BPOS is a Microsoft-hosted collection of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communications Online and Live Meeting. The Federal version is hosted on "separate, dedicated infrastructure in secured facilities," not in the existing datacenters where Microsoft currently hosts BPOS. (BPOS is a cloud offering, but isn't currently hosted on Windows Azure. Microsoft officials have said the goal is to move BPOS to Azure, but haven't offered a timetable for that.)

"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 the Microsoft press release.

Microsoft also is adding further security and compliance support to its existing BPOS bundle as well as the newly announced Federal one, company officials said today.

On the list of standards and certifications that "standard" BPOS will meet within six months: International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001, Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 70 Type I and Type II, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Title 21 CFR Part 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Federal version of BPOS also will have Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, and Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) compliance certification. (Note: I updated this section to clarify, based on this Microsoft Online Services Team blog post.)

According to Microsoft, more than 500 U.S. state and local governments are using its Online Services (BPOS, various standalone Microsoft Online offerings, Deskless Worker offerings and more).

In other news the Redmondians are unveiling at the CIO Summit today, Microsoft is adding identity federation services to its Live@Edu hosted offering for students and academics. (Update: Support is coming for the SAML and Shiboleth single sign-on services -- support for both of which will be added at some point this year to BPOS, too, the Softies said.) Microsoft officials said in the past six months more than 10,000 schools have licensed Live@edu. Late last year, Microsoft added SharePoint Online to its Live@Edu bundle.

Just yesterday, during the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference, Microsoft President of Server and Tools Bob Muglia mentioned that the public sector has been the strongest sector, by far, for Microsoft in terms of enterprise/server product sales. The new BPOS bundle seems to be a reflection of this fact.

Topics: CXO, Collaboration, Microsoft

About

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).

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16 comments
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  • JUST SAY NO TO MS IN THE GOV'T

    It's the only sensible thing to do.

    As a taxpayer and IT veteran I know MS solutions have the highest TCO of any solution. I don't want my $$ wasted on their inferior products.
    itguy08
    • Oh I am sure everyone is going to change their mind based on your post.

      Or maybe they will just continue to rely on their own TCO studies like they always have.

      Tough call...
      Qbt
      • Waterboys unite!

        http://rixstep.com/2/1/20100224,00.shtml

        Apparently there are never enough good reasons for a bunch of
        waterboys in denial. Have another glass of Kool-Aid.
        SquishyParts
        • Sour grapes because your OS is a loser?

          Thought so...
          Qbt
    • We already said "No" to your posts :)

      An "IT veteran"?

      HAHAHAHAHAHA!

      Oh, that was your [b]best[/b] one yet! :)
      John Zern
    • Really???

      Over any solution? Not sure how we could move to something else and shed employees to manage it. We are already a pretty tight ship over here in this IT department. I am not going to be a one man show its just not going to happen and thats just dumb when you don't have any backup to cover you when you are out.

      We tried Oracle years ago and the initial patch cycle out the gate would make any IT professional cringe, so don't give us your all knowing when its far from it.
      OhTheHumanity
    • Hey IT VET

      Get your facts correct before posting anything sounding stupid. There
      had been a long study and research about this and enterprises found the
      other way round, i.e. having Microsoft Farm doesn't spike the costs or
      TCO, but whereas some of the free environments will costs dearly when
      you want a 24/7 support. Otherwise total industry would have switched
      to your lover a while back.

      --Ram--
      Ram U
      • FYI: ISPs use Linux

        Can you explain why?

        PS. If you don't know, call your local ISP and ask. Hint, high ROI.

        ^o^
        <br>

        <br>
        n0neXn0ne
      • Yup

        Back up your statement with an independent study not paid for by MS.
        SquishyParts
    • I agree

      anyone who knows about real IT value avoids M$.
      Linux Geek
      • Of course you agree. When have you ever NOT agreed to some stupid comment?

        .
        Qbt
      • We know value....

        And its been in the .Net framework. Sorry but our systems do a great job for us and our TCO is very low as well. We have minimal support for the money our systems bring in.
        OhTheHumanity
  • Sounds good to me

    If MS can come up with one or more of these specially secure datacenters which could be subject to continuous government access / revue, it would simply make MS a special type of government contractor. But even still, companies should be limited in the total volume of government data they can host. I like the idea of putting government data in many data baskets - not a few.
    P. Douglas
  • Microsoft.......Default action = FAIL

    While microsofts default action is always fail, it is amusing and naive to talk about microsoft and security.
    What an oxymoron! Microsoft if nothing else by the time they have been in business have proved that they are completely unable to secure even the most simple thing.

    microsoft needs to stop running their mouth and hire some decent programmers and start writing windows 1.1, since they haven't released a stable secure version yet they should start over.
    Reality Bites
    • Welcome to 2010

      X64 Windows 7 has been the most stable version of Windows I have ever used.

      Not to mention Microsoft has come a long way with security since Windows XP.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • You are saying?, one should place federal data in free linux & 0 secure mac

        This people are getting funnier every day.

        Microsoft has 20+ years of experience in operating system business. The support they provide. the tech support people available in windows. the security update you get once in every few days.
        digish777