Security, privacy, reliability, standards compliance, and transparency. These are characteristics we need from corporate Email systems. Attaining and maintaining these goals in a cost effective manner can be very difficult, especially for small and medium sized businesses. You might not think these things are synonymous with “the cloud”, but Microsoft and its network of partners are promising all of this for a very compelling price with Office 365. Hosted Exchange takes advantage of Microsoft’s huge investments in infrastructure, scale,and experience is making it increasingly possible for smaller companies to provide employees with cutting edge, anywhere access to corporate information and productivity software.
- Data is stored in 24-hour monitored data centers
- Logical isolation of data from other companies
- Access to the administrative features of Office 365 is controlled by role-based access policies defined by the customer
- Data is encrypted using standards based technology both at rest in Microsoft’s data centers and in transit to the viewing computer
- Legal hold, governance, and archiving features are available to allow administrators to place a hold on sensitive data for legal and/or archiving purposes
- eDiscovery interface allows administrators to quickly search and find data for audit or security compliance
- Built in mobile device security features allows data to be wiped or access restricted
- Anti-spam and anti-malware considered to be on par with third party competition is built in
- Microsoft states it does not scan emails and documents for use in advertisements
- Data is yours and it can be downloaded and removed from Microsoft servers at any time
- Microsoft allows you to turn off and on privacy impacting features to meet your needs
- Office 365 offers 99.9% uptime via a financially backed service level agreement
- Your data is stored close to customer locations to reduce latency
- All servers storing data are physically redundant
- Data is replicated between two separate data centers
Standards and Regulatory Compliance:
Microsoft provides policy templates within Office 365 to assist organizations with compliance on regulations and standards. Microsoft has over 40 of these templates available by default, and even more are available through their partners. Some examples of contracts, certifications, standards, and regulations that Office 365 includes:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Microsoft will sign a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with any customer.
- ISO 27001 (Office 365 is the first major business productivity public cloud service to implement this security benchmark)
- Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Microsoft makes information available to customers on where their data lives
- Detailed information on who can access Office 365 customer data is available
- Administrators can subscribe to updates regarding data center location changes, security, privacy and audit info
All of these features are available with an Office 365 enterprise plan, but that’s only the beginning of what you get with an Office 365 subscription. 25 GB of mail storage per person, access to download and install the full Office 2013 suite on up to 5 computers per person, file storage in SkyDrive Pro, SharePoint online, apps for mobile phones (including Office Mobile for the iPhone), and much more only serve to make that $20/month a truly unbelievable value.