If you haven’t seen it, we just recently announced availability of a really cool new cloud service called Office 365. O365 lets users pick from a menu of tools:
- Office applications like Word and Excel,
- Document and team collaboration with SharePoint,
- Conferencing and IM with Lync, and
- Hosted email and scheduling with Exchange.
All managed in the cloud and available on a subscription basis, so no capital outlay. I could spend a bunch of time talking about how super-awesome this is, but will leave that to another day.
Anyways — one of the best things about the Direct Project is that it integrates naturally with the standard email systems we’ve all been using for a long time. Those systems already do all the hard work of managing messaging: quotas, backups, virus detection and management, spam filtering, routing, and so on — Direct just adds in a little magic to help out with security and trust.
And because Exchange Online is just standard email — it’s really easy to use it to provide convenient and cost-effective Direct addresses for your organization. All you need to do is host a single machine that serves as the Direct gateway, and everything else is handled by O365.
Folks that have been working with Direct will certainly know Ali Emami — Ali works on our Health Solutions incubation team with Umesh Madan and (amongst a bunch of other stuff) has taken on the work of managing our participation in the Direct workgroups. He is an awesome guy who understands details like few people do AND can explain them to others.
Ali has written a great white paper that describes, step-by-step, exactly how to configure O365 Exchange Online to integrate with a Direct gateway. We’ve tested the steps internally with a couple of guinea pigs — and you really should be able to get going with a day or less of investment.
Now THAT is cool — set up your own Direct domain with all the incredible features of Office 365 and only host one machine? This could really break things wide open — WOOOO HOO!
Download Ali’s paper here: Office365 and Direct HOWTO
PS. Are you a partner that hosts Exchange or provides Office 365-based services? You should take a look too … there could be a real business in offering pre-configured Direct service this way … with virtually no capital investment. Not bad ….
Added 9/21 — a number of folks have asked me whether Exchange Online is able to sign a HIPAA business associate agreement, since the service may be holding protected health information on behalf of a covered entity. The answer is YES we can do that; the service is compliant and you just need to contact your Licensing Executive or customer service to get started. Yippee!