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Microsoft launches Office 365 edition for US government customers

Microsoft offers a cloud service reserved for government agencies

Microsoft has released a government-specific edition of its Office 365 cloud-based email and collaboration suite that offers U.S. public-sector customers a cordoned-off data center infrastructure just for them.

Office 365 for Government hosts applications and data in a multitenant cloud reserved for U.S. government agencies, Microsoft said in a blog post Wednesday.

Suite components will include, as in other Office 365 editions, online versions of Exchange, Lync, Office and SharePoint as well as the full desktop productivity suite Office Professional Plus licensed on a subscription model.

Microsoft already offers government customers of its cloud services, including Office 365 and its predecessor Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), special hosting options beyond its standard multitenant, public cloud infrastructure.

For example, government customers have had the option to choose a dedicated cloud, which is hosted and managed by Microsoft or a partner, but which guarantees the customer that its software and data will be placed in servers exclusive to it.

Another even more exclusive option that Microsoft makes available is a private cloud, managed by either a Microsoft partner or by the customer itself. Thus, Office 365 for Government adds another option for U.S. government customers, whose data privacy, regulatory compliance and security needs vary depending on the nature of the work and the focus of the different agencies.

Microsoft had indicated its intention to release what has now become Office 365 for Government back in March, when it said that it would give U.S. government agencies the option to host their Office 365 suites in a dedicated "cloud community" reserved only for government customers.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.


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