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Microsoft to strike back at Salesforce.com with CRM cloud for government

The CRM Online government cloud will be tied to ones for Microsoft's Azure and Office 365

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Microsoft is continuing its dogfight with Salesforce.com in the customer relationship management software market with a new Dynamics CRM Online cloud service for U.S. government agencies.

The service is expected to be available early next year. It will be compliant with FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) security standards, according to an official Microsoft blog post on Wednesday.

Through the new service, "government business users will have 'anytime, anywhere, any device' access to their critical workflows and applications," wrote Curt Kolcun, vice president of the U.S. public sector unit at Microsoft. The service "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," Kolcun added.

In addition, the CRM Online government cloud will be integrated with Microsoft's previously announced Azure and Office 365 services for government.

Microsoft made the announcement in advance of its Worldwide Partner Conference, which is being held next week in Washington, D.C. More details of the new CRM Online service are expected to be discussed at the event.

Microsoft will be a bit later to market with a FedRAMP-badged CRM service than Salesforce.com, which announced in late May that it had been granted an ATO (authority to operate) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its government cloud. The DHHS used FedRAMP guidelines when making its determination.

FedRAMP is a mandatory government program that lays out standards for security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring of cloud services. All cloud vendors are keen to achieve FedRAMP certification given the U.S. government's vast buying power and spending on IT.

The point of FedRAMP is to help government agencies acquire cloud services more quickly and for less money, since they could rely on FedRAMP certification rather than undertake their own separate security assessments.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com



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