Customer Lockbox opens a door for government moving to cloud

I often ask myself about the future of Office 365 for government or organizations that don’t really trust in cloud computing. When data comes to cloud provider, it is undeniably accessible to cloud provider’s engineers as well as there is no warranty in data leakage. Although Microsoft has claimed a number of different international security compliances applied to its cloud infrastructure, and security features in Office 365 (e.g. Data Loss Prevention, Information Right Management), the pessimistic view of the data in the cloud still exists.

Today, the announcement of the new feature named Customer Lockbox in Office 365 gets my question off for a while. What Customer Lockbox does is provide customer the key that they can decide to give Microsoft cloud engineers to open the door or not. Normally when a tenant’s Office 365 box has problem, Microsoft cloud engineer team has full control to access to the box for investigation. The security becomes breached with this kind of work. The customer who owns the tenant has no choice in this case. To maximize data security and privacy, Microsoft has vastly put its effort into Customer Lockbox feature. The selling point made by Microsoft is as follows

Use of the Customer Lockbox feature ensures that Microsoft engineer does not get access to the customer’s content without customer’s explicit approval. When the customer gets the request for access, they can scrutinize the request and either approve or reject it. Until the request is approved, the Microsoft engineer will not be granted access

According to Microsoft, Customer Lockbox will be available for Exchange Online by the end of 2015, and for SharePoint Online by the first quarter of 2016.

Will Customer Lockbox fill up the trust?

Yes of course! At least Office 365 customers are able to control access to their data in a tenant-level perimeter. However, to me there has been still a missing point here that Microsoft might be under its development roadmap. Imagine if Microsoft engineer team is allowed to have access to your data, they will definitively see all. The data should have been classified and controlled at the highest level. For example, even I give a Microsoft engineer the key to access my room, he still can’t open the cabinet where my valuable stuffs are within. Similarly, with secret classified information, nobody has access until allowed. That’s the ultimate objective!

Conclusion

Government agencies are going to considerably think towards cloud, specifically Office 365. With Customer Lockbox, Office 365 will become much more competitive with other SaaS cloud providers.

To me, I’m going to have this question back: What is the actual future of SharePoint on-premises from now on?

For more information about Customer Lockbox: http://blogs.office.com/2015/04/21/announcing-customer-lockbox-for-office-365/

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