Microsoft provides certificate for BPOS-Federal service suite
Microsoft has produced a FISMA certificate for its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS-F) allowing it to receive the Authorisation To Operate (ATO) required so that it can be used by US authorities. Shortly after the successor to BPOS, Office 365, went into open beta testing the company provided the certificate which will allow for the use of its services including SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Office Communications Online as applications for public officials. Without the ATO, US officials cannot assume that a program package or service suite is sufficiently secure for its needs and are therefore not allowed to use it. Nevertheless, it seems that Microsoft had already won over the US Department of Agriculture as a customer for BPOS even before receiving certification; the DOA is providing its 120,000 staff members with access to Microsoft's cloud services.
On its US website for software for public officials, Microsoft heavily promotes Office 365. While the company has announced that it will address FISMA certification for this new suite immediately after it is launched, but BPOS-F itself shows how much ground has to be made up in certification after such a product is released. The Lync Server long ago replaced one part of the suite, Office Communication Server, in Microsoft's catalog for non-government customers, but OCS still has to be used in BPOS-F as it is the most modern communication server with certification.
A few days ago, Microsoft's vice president charged that Google does not actually have the FISMA certificate it claims to provide for its cloud services for public officials and accused the search engine giant of misleading its customers. Google denies the charges and says that its Google Apps for Government is merely a better protected version of the "normal" Google Apps, which is itself certified. Google says the specific certificate for the special governmental version is currently being worked on, but is not finished. Recently, Google asked a court to intervene because it felt that a request for proposals from the government unfairly advantaged Microsoft's web services subscription. The investigation revealed that the US Department of the Interior considered Microsoft's cloud services to be safer than Google's even though Google had a certificate and Microsoft did not.