By Softlanding
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BC Public Sector's 'Green Light' for Cloud Technologies

January 31, 2018

So it happened, as of January 30th, 2018 the BC's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has 'greenlit' Office 365, Intune, PowerBI and parts of Azure for use by the BC Public Sector. This has been a long time coming for BC's government, education, and healthcare... but what does this all mean? Breaking down the implications of this news, the technologies involved and how existing public sector organizations around the world are using it - learn what 'next steps' can be taken in light of the news.

Time-sensitive? We've created a quick six-minute video to explain it all.

Reading Between the Lines

In the days after the world trade center attacks in 2001, the United States passed several new laws including the Patriot Act. In Canada, most provinces updated their privacy legislation. In 2004, BC's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) came into effect, setting clear expectations about how public sector organizations should be treating the personal information of BC residents. Under Section 30.1, the privacy act specifically calls out that no personal information can be stored or accessed outside Canada. A provision that focused on the sovereign residency of data - something that couldn't be promised by Cloud technologies and its routing arrangements across dispersed data centers.

In finding a resolution to this, the OCIO has updated the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), consulting with Microsoft, the Privacy Commissioner and many other stakeholders, to formally approve of certain Microsoft technologies that abide data residency requirements.

What Microsoft Technologies are Approved

Office 365 Exchange and SharePoint Online

Designed with the needs of agile businesses in mind, Office 365 increases the productivity of staff by enabling anywhere, anytime access to tools like Exchange and SharePoint on any device. Moving to Office 365 Exchange and SharePoint Online means more reliability and uptime, greater compliance and security and of course, mobility for employees.

Office365 Pro Plus

Office 365 ProPlus is a version of Office that's available through Office 365. It includes the applications that you're familiar with, including Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Skype for Business, and Word.

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is Microsoft’s multi-tenant, cloud-based directory and identity management service for applications running in Microsoft Azure and on-premises environments. A saving grace for IT Admins, Azure AD provides a centralized platform to grant single sign-on access to thousands of cloud SaaS applications like Office365. Additionally, delivering identity management capabilities including multi-factor authentication, device registration, self-service password management, self-service group management, privileged account management, role-based access control, application usage monitoring, rich auditing and security monitoring and alerting.

  • Caveat: Dependent on what services Azure AD is programmed to synchronize, the service must be compliant. For example, services with non-compliant attributes like home phone number or thumbnail photo are not permitted.
  • Workaround: Working with the City of Surrey, Softlanding has found a workaround to enable services like employee intranets, HR portals, scheduling systems and other key IT assets that contain home phone numbers and thumbnail photos to be compliant with BC FOIPPA requirements, utilizing Azure Active Directory. Learn more about Government Mobile Workforce Essentials
  • See how the City of Surrey is using Azure Active Directory

Microsoft Intune

Microsoft Intune is an application that lets you manage mobile devices, PCs and apps from the cloud. Using Intune, you can provide employees with access to corporate apps, data, and resources from virtually anywhere on almost any device, while helping to keep corporate information secure.

  • Caveat: Relying on Azure Active Directory for authentication for Mobile Device Management – no personally identifiable data can be contained in the device registration, nor for activities that may be performed on that device.
  • Workaround: Microsoft Intune is compliant with BC FOIPPA privacy act
  • See how California Department of Social Services is using Microsoft Intune

Microsoft PowerBI

Power BI allows you to connect with hundreds of data sources, making it easier to unite all your business data in one place. Create personalized dashboards with a unique, 360-degree view of their business. These dashboards provide a constantly updated story of your business data, which can increase productivity and connectivity of you and your team.

Next Steps

With only eight weeks before the next fiscal begins, time is short to arrange project plans for 2018. We’ve created a brief envisioning workshop (three days) with the express intent of identifying the business value of these cloud technologies, estimating the subscription options and costs, and developing a high-level project plan. It’s possible to fund the workshop with DPS days from Microsoft; if you’ve got some available then we can deliver the workshop at no cost to you

Find out more: BC Public Sector Cloud Envisioning Workshop

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