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February 26, 2010
Public institutions are looking into the cloud as a money-saving maneuver, and rightly so. Now Microsoft is breaking into that market with the unveiling of BPOS Federal, a version of its hosted online collaboration and productivity suite with enhanced security aimed at filling the needs of the federal government. Here’s what VARs should know.
Microsoft BPOS — or Business Productivity Online Suite, to those in the know — consists of Microsoft-hosted versions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online, and Live Meeting.
The Federal version will keep all that, but it will be hosted out of its own secure data centers, with access restricted by biometrics to United States citizens who have passed a rigorous pre-screening and fingerprinting. Moreover, both BPOS and BPOS Federal will be getting enhanced security measures in line with both industry and government standards. Among the supported standards, per the press release:
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) compliance.
Microsoft is planning on selling BPOS Federal directly to government contractors and anyone else who needs this kind of enhanced security, but its Large Account Resellers and federal resellers will be able to get in the action, reports Mary-Jo Foley at All About Microsoft.
BPOS Federal won’t be available until later this year while it gets Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)-certified. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s rival in all things Google is ramping up to offer their own government cloud solution in 2010.
It’s no wonder these cloud giants are getting into the government vertical — it’s incredibly lucrative, and the cost savings potentially make for an easy sell. The only question: where will VARS fit in? Some solutions providers see strong BPOS opportunities. But plenty of VARs remain concerned about BPOS and Microsoft’s SaaS price cuts.
Earlier this week at the Parallels Summit in Miami, Intermedia and Unison took to the stage and warned hosting partners not to give into Microsoft Online applications and BPOS, because of margin and customer control concerns.
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