A mobile first, cloud first approach for governments – Office 365, Azure and now Dynamics CRM

09 July 2014 | Curt Kolcun, Vice President, U.S. Public Sector

From the momentum we are seeing among governments like the County of Los Angeles moving to Office 365 to our public commitment to an Azure government cloud, Microsoft is focused on providing our government customers with the cloud services that help them better meet their mission. Today, we are announcing additional updates that make Microsoft’s cloud – which spans infrastructure, data, productivity, mobility and more – the most comprehensive, end-to-end cloud solution for government customers.

A government cloud for Dynamics CRM Online

First, today I’m excited to share the news that Dynamics CRM Online will join Office 365 and Azure in providing a cloud available for U.S. federal, state and local governments. Based on the architecture of Microsoft Dynamics’ industry leading public cloud offering, Dynamics CRM Online for government will be a separate instance for government customers in compliance with FedRAMP and operated by U.S. Citizens. Available in early 2015, the service will allow customers to leverage their existing Microsoft investment on premises and in the cloud through hybrid cloud capabilities including integration with the Azure and Office 365 government community clouds.

State and federal agencies already rely on Dynamics CRM to handle everything from grants to field inspections and beyond. Now, government business users will have “anytime, anywhere, any device” access to their critical workflows and applications. The Dynamics CRM Online government cloud will also provide citizens with a central online resource to research information about events and services, find community health centers, apply for permits or licenses, pay bills and fines, or log reports and requests.

With this addition of Dynamics to the government cloud products we’ve brought to market, Microsoft will be able to offer a truly end-to-end solution to help our customers cover all their needs. From enabling greater communication and collaboration, to streamlining infrastructure and management, to accessing greater insights from data, and now to better engaging citizens, a Microsoft government cloud environment will provide all of these services.

Azure expanded preview

Secondly, as we get ready for the Worldwide Partner Conference taking place next week in Washington D.C., it’s worth noting that today our Azure government cloud is one step closer to general availability. Building on the private preview we announced earlier this year at our Federal Forum, we are expanding the preview to more partner and customer solutions and workloads.

Already, customers such as Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) and partners like Schneider Electric and InfoReliance are taking advantage of the Azure preview. Illinois DOC will be using Azure government cloud storage as part of its offender management system, built with Microsoft technology. Illinois DOC’s CIO Steve Matthews is laser focused on driving an integrated justice system and he believes that a Microsoft secure government cloud is an essential part of that.

Schneider Electric is a partner who chose to participate in the Azure government cloud preview to help ensure that its StruxureWare Resources Advisor cloud computing environment would meet government customer requirements. As cities and government entities across the U.S. seek to optimize energy expenditures and achieve environmental sustainability targets, the importance of cost-effective, cloud-enabled solutions like StruxureWare Resource Advisor are becoming more relevant.

Similarly, InfoReliance, a partner who is effectively architecting and deploying Office 365 solutions, sees a natural reason to participate in the Azure government cloud preview; this is because the Azure government cloud will offer customers an integrated cloud solution that meets government security, privacy and data loss prevention requirements. InfoReliance government customers who have recognized the cost, capability and compliance benefits of Office 365 easily understand that Azure offers the same benefits, while also allowing them to extend more mission critical workloads to the cloud, building a truly cloud-enabled enterprise.

Government solution partners interested in participating in the expanded Azure government preview are invited to reach out to Microsoft to get started. Please contact AzureGov@Microsoft.com.

Customers and partners are finding that the Azure government cloud provides a unique platform that enables them to serve as strategic cloud brokers with finished services like Azure Active Directory (AD), providing multi-factor authentication and data protection services plus single sign-on to more than 2,000 popular cloud applications. Microsoft has specially constructed datacenters in the regions closest to government customers. Further, the datacenters are isolated from the Microsoft Azure public cloud, and are geographically distributed to support business continuity scenarios. Cloud infrastructure is key, but it is the finished services such as Azure Active Directory (AD), data, mobility and productivity alignment that will continue to set Microsoft’s cloud vision apart.

As a company dedicated to the cloud in the government space, we are committed to the breadth and depth of regulations that our customers require. From both an Azure and Office 365 perspective, the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standard is a prime example. Our distinct commitment to meeting CJIS requirements has shown our customers the length to which we support their unique security and privacy priorities and criteria.

Microsoft is willing to put our commitments in writing. It is serious work, but more than 15 different states have agreements or are in negotiations directly with Microsoft to form CJIS agreements. We believe this is a strong indicator of the value that our compliance brings. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is a prime example of this. Recently, Ted Byerly at the sheriff’s department cited CJIS as a primary reason for choosing Microsoft’s cloud services, saying:

“As a California Law Enforcement Agency, we are bound by regulations such as CJIS. We met with Microsoft and other cloud vendors over a period of several months to review our options. Microsoft’s direct commitment to CJIS has clearly differentiated them as the leading cloud services provider and making them the ideal solution for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.”

Office 365 momentum

Finally, when it comes to productivity and collaboration, we are seeing our customers agree with Microsoft’s government cloud approach. The Office 365 government cloud has seen incredible momentum since it was announced. For example:

  • More than 2,200 federal, state and local government customers in the U.S. have selected Office 365.
  • In the last 90 days alone, more than 750 state and local governments and more than 60 federal government agencies have purchased seats of Office 365.
  • Across the U.S., large cities and counties, from the County of Los Angeles, CA, to the County of Mecklenburg, NC, and cities like Chicago, San Jose, and San Francisco have all selected Office 365.
  • The vast majority of Federal cabinet level agencies, in whole or in part, have chosen Office 365 for productivity and collaboration needs. This includes full implementation across agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the EPA.

When we look at the work Microsoft is doing with cities through our CityNext initiative, particularly in the area of making cities as safe as possible for those who work, live and play there, we know standards like CJIS are a critical element of a truly modernized move to the cloud. We will continue our work with government partners and stakeholders to meet all the important security and privacy requirements that they have prioritized

At Microsoft, as we move to providing the full breadth of cloud offerings to our U.S. government customers – which includes productivity, collaboration, computation, line of business apps and everything in between -- no other market player matches this commitment, has the integrated offerings both in the cloud and on premises, or has the proven track record in delivering secure, enterprise scale solutions to the public sector.

As we head into the Worldwide Partner Conference, we are proud to share this news with our partners and are excited to work with them to bring these offerings to the market. Not only will our partners see how they are an integral piece of bringing a cloud-centric world to life, but they will also be part of shaping our collective role in serving federal, state, local, and tribal customers across the country.

Interested in reading more about our activities at Worldwide Partner Conference? Check out an Official Microsoft Blog post or an Azure blog post.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Curt Kolcun
Vice President, U.S. Public Sector

About the Author

Curt Kolcun | Vice President, U.S. Public Sector

Curt Kolcun is responsible for sales, contracting, citizenship and marketing efforts for Microsoft’s U.S. government, education, and public sector healthcare markets. Read more