February 28, 2010

BPOS for Governments

One of the biggest concerns that governments and even some specific industries have with cloud based services is the absence of control.  Physical controls to your data is critical for lots of these guys and the hesitation isn’t unwarranted.  A recent spat of news relating to compromised data (including a bad one with Twitter and Google’s services) is enough to give anyone pause.  Microsoft lost out on a pretty major deal with a California city recently to Google because Google promised them a locked down version of Google Apps for Enterprises.  The problem with the path that Google took to win that customer is that they made an exception to their standard protocols and basically stood up a private cloud for the city (from what I understand).  One of Microsoft’s strengths, however, has been with their willingness to back up their data centers with real dollars for downtime as well as going the extra mile to get some of those compliance ratings.

Recently, Microsoft announced, and was covered by ZDNet (link here) a new version of BPOS targeting these reluctant government (and I’m certain other key industries) prospects called BPOS Fed.  This scenario is quite a bit different than Google’s approach.  First, Microsoft is showing off its creds: ITAR, HIPPA, FERPA, and more and is also embracing some federated authentication models.  Next, these compliance ratings will be applied to standard BPOS land for other organizations to benefit from soon (within six months according to ZDNet).  Where Google builds a private cloud to accommodate a single customer (possibly a few), Microsoft is going the extra mile to ensure the security of all of their customers.  This is huge!

I’ve got a client that has some valid concerns around the cloud.  It’s hard for them to release that physical control and for good reason.  Now, with these federal and industry compliances in place, and the recent shift in pricing, governments and other regulated industries have another tool in their pocket for considering the powerful and robust cloud messaging solutions from Microsoft.

In a future article, I’ll describe what I’ve learned from my time spent working with BPOS and how it stacks up against some of its ‘competition.’