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2/24/2010
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Microsoft Announces Government Cloud

The Business Productivity Online Suite Federal is hosted on a government-dedicated infrastructure in secured facilities within Microsoft's own data centers.

Microsoft is now offering a dedicated government cloud service, hosted in secure, dedicated facilities and designed to meet the particular security, privacy, and compliance needs of government agencies, the company announced at its annual U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit Wednesday.

The Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) Federal, includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online, and Live Meeting, just like the standard BPOS, but is hosted on a government-dedicated infrastructure in secured facilities within Microsoft's own data centers.

"These enhancements raise the bar around compliance and security in our BPOS services," Ron Markezich, VP of Microsoft Online, said in an interview. "We've had enterprise customers on this for up to five years, and some of the most demanding multinational companies in the world on this. This is ready for the government today."

The new hosting facilities will be compliant with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), so access will be limited to U.S. citizens who have gone through background checks complete with fingerprinting.

Additionally, Microsoft announced that it has achieved compliance certifications for a number of key regulations important to both government and business. These include: 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, Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, and Trusted Internet Connections (TIC).

In an interview, Microsoft Online VP Ron Markezich said Microsoft expects to achieve Federal Information Systems Management Act (FISMA) certification within 6 months.

New capabilities are also on the way for both government and business customers, including enhanced encryption, two-factor authentication, new rights management features, and something called the "master administrative console" where users can, for example, administer state or federated agencies like their own islands within a particular instance of BPOS.

The offerings come at a time when federal CIO Vivek Kundra is actively steering the federal government and parts of its $79 billion annual IT budget toward cloud computing.

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