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back to article The only way is Office: UK Parliament to migrate to Microsoft cloud

The UK Parliament is migrating to Office 365, which will become the default option for email, file-sharing, hosted apps and storage services for MPs and parliamentary staff from May 2015. Like many organisations, Parliament has decided that moving to the cloud offers the potential for financial savings. A January meeting of …

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Anonymous Coward

What could go wrong

Probably not a lot as I suspect NSA probably already has access to it all anyway

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Re: What could go wrong

But this way we will all have access to it as well.

650 MPs , 1000s of researchers/assistants/etc most of which are unqualified wives/children/distant relatives of MPs. So 98.6% of passwords are going to be "password123" - it should finally lead to open government

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Re: What could go wrong

Utter rubbish!

You need an least a capital in there, so I think you'll find it's Password123 and maybe if it's really "complex".

Password1!

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Re: What could go wrong

But to do capitals on an iPad don't you need opposable thumbs?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What could go wrong

Pa55w0rd for extra security.

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Facepalm

Re: What could go wrong

"Pa55w0rd for extra security."

Waaaayyy too many places I've seen that are still using that one!

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Re: What could go wrong

How about Pa$$w0rd? It meets complexity requirements including mixed case, mixed alpha and numeric and non-numeric/alpha. But still only 8 characters so you can remember it without writing it down on a post-it note stuck on the monitor/laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

Obvious

Speaks volumes on the complicity of the US/UK shared data harvesting and the contempt with which MPs treat the people who elected them.

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To sum up

Obama gets most of his morning digest from the PRISM program.

NSA leaks show it has a secret policy of keeping UK information even despite the no-spy gentlemans agreement.

Snowden leaks show Britain allowed it to keep email data on Brits.

Merkel/Sarkozy leaks shows they spy on politicians.

Snowden interview shows they use data to leverage control of political and economic figures.

Despite this, they're migrating to a US controlled cloud. That will mean that Obama can monitor policies at the fledgling stage, before they're discussed, before they're voted on, and work to eliminate those at an early stage, or work to marginalize any politician with policies he doesn't like.

The job of securing British political emails, and protect them from foreign spies is GCHQs. Are they really so broken and 'turned' that they permitted this cloud move???

Really?

What next? US based cloud voting?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To sum up

Are they really so broken and 'turned' that they permitted this cloud move???

What I do not see yet is which cloud this will sit in. I don't think government standards will allow a foreign hosted cloud, so I would assume that there is at least some containment - that's where I would ask the questions.

Not that it matters much, they're using Microsoft. That's game over right there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To sum up

> I don't think government standards will allow a foreign hosted cloud

True, they won't allow one. They will probably demand one.

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Re: To sum up

"What I do not see yet is which cloud this will sit in"

The Azure/Office 365 EU cloud I'd imagine in Ireland and Netherlands which, given that it's not sensitive data will be absolutely fine and (apparently) not subject to the Patriot Act. All this info is on the MS website if you choose to read it, the solution is actually pretty good now albeit still with a few limitations. The data centre will certainly not be in England (or UK) though, they don't have one which has been publicly disclosed for the cloud here and given how specific the documentation is I doubt they have an undisclosed cloud DC here either. There's an outside chance they might add an Azure pod to one of the Microsoft Corp DCs just for government of course, MS love to win government contracts one way or another :)

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Re: To sum up

"What I do not see yet is which cloud this will sit in. I don't think government standards will allow a foreign hosted cloud..."

You mean... the cloud has to be somewhere physical??? But we thought... "IT'S THE CLOUD - IT'S EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE".

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Re: To sum up

All data in the possession of a US-based company is subject to the Patriot Act, regardless of the location of that data.

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Re: To sum up

$orkplace checked (nice to have a bunch of lawyers on retainer)

The Irish and NL cloud servers ARE subject to the PATRIOT Act.

$orkplace moved to office365 anyway.

DOH!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's everywhere and nowhere

"IT'S THE CLOUD - IT'S EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE".

It's everywhere and no where, baby

That's where it's at

[]

Saying everything is groovy

When your tyres are flat

[]

Files are in your pea soup, baby

They're waving at me

Anything you want is yours now

Only nothing is for free

Lies are gonna get you some day

Just wait and see

So open up your beach umbrella

While you're watching TV

[Can you tell what it is yet? 1967, if that helps - how did he know?]

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Joke

I suppose this saves costs

As the data doesn't have to be sent to America over a separate line anymore. Smart thinking.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmmm

So when they can't pay the (possibly substantial) subscription, all parliamentary procedures stop, yes?

"I'm sorry, UK Government Procurement Advisor, Microsoft have to increase your subscription by 1000% this year, and we project the same or greater for the next 5 years. OK, you don't want to pay? Well, we'll generously give you 28 days to extract your data from our services. You still have some legacy in-house services left, don't you?"

I must admit that I see this whole policy as full of risk. I just hope that they can specify that the data must not be stored anywhere in US juristriction. Imagine someone doing a "Bradley (or should that be Chelsea) Manning" on the MPs email and official correspondence.

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Re: Hmmmm

No - as a wholly owned subsidiary UK Govt Inc can use the US government's site licence

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Re: Hmmmm

> the data must not be stored anywhere in US juristriction.

How can possibly work, the Americans think US jurisdiction applies to the whole world.

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Re: Hmmmm

I'm sure whoever is negotiating the contract will include a fair price increase clause, oh wait it's the UK government we're talking about.

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Anonymous Coward

This will end well

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Have we learned nothing....

....from the whole snowden thing? (not his leaking of documents but what he actually leaked) - the spooks of all nations seem to have infiltrated a lot of big companies either by hook or crook. Either way it makes no jeffin' difference - this is not a secure way for *any* government to do business with data. I don't care if its the MP's paper clip expenses or nuclear weapons purchases it shouldn't be in the cloud.

And as for letting M$ get the gig, jeezus. We need to get out of bed with that one. (I'm not suggesting google would be better btw) - but thats one supplier that needs to be removed from their far too powerful position within gov. Then again your average MP is a bit simple and probably couldn't cope with anything else or understand why alternatives may actually be cheaper.

Anyway, if they move gov data to cloud and this will end in tears I predict.... (not least from our own hacking newspapers :) [though I hope I am proved wrong]

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

It's all right. Friends don't spy on friends. The UK parlamentarians will have nothing to worry about in regards to security.

I bet that they are already looking forward to the five nines of access that they were surely promised.

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

Friends ONLY spy on friends.

Whats the point of knowing the launch codes for the Russian missiles? Unless there is a WWIII there is little value in knowing ANY enemy military info.

Now whats the value in knowing the other Eu ministers position on agricultural subsidy cuts or on whether Scotland would be allowed into the Eu without the Euro?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have we learned nothing....

Remember, these are MPs. Can you seriously expect them to learn something other than Microsoft Office and Windows?

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

Why do humans keep ignorant/incompetent people on the government, is something they will never understand...

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

"Now whats the value in knowing the other Eu ministers position on agricultural subsidy cuts or on whether Scotland would be allowed into the Eu without the Euro?"

No such thing as a discussion on EU agricultural cuts!

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

"It's all right. Friends don't spy on friends".

Which would be very reassuring, except that NATIONS DON'T HAVE FRIENDS. They have interests. (Ideally, those would be interests different from those of the ruling clique and their rich cronies... but let's try to live in the real world).

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Holmes

Re: Have we learned nothing....

Why do humans keep ignorant/incompetent people on the government, is something they will never understand...

It keeps them off the streets ... and it's easier than educating them.

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

"Why do humans keep ignorant/incompetent people on the government, is something they will never understand..."

'Cos even the most stupid buggers with half a brain cell have enough sense to keep well away!

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

"Unless there is a WWIII there is little value in knowing ANY enemy military info"

It's worth knowing that Vlad at the missile base will not under any circumstances push the button to kill millions of civilians and has secretly cut the wires to make sure nothing happens if he does.

(You think this hasn't happened?)

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Re: Have we learned nothing....

And it convenient for the government too, to know everything of your members of parliament. Saves time. Why have a debate any more, you know all opinions in advance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have we learned nothing....

"Can you seriously expect them to learn something other than Microsoft Office and Windows?"

We already expect them (or their staff) to re-learn radically different UIs and behaviours every time MS decide to radically change UIs and behaviours. Where's the problem (in that respect anyway)?

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Windows

Hansard

Well, the main story isn't a big surprise. What would have been a surprise would be Parliament adopting an open source solution with RDP into secure servers to cover BYOD - thus promoting a locally designed system from software houses near at hand...

What I am interested in is what the Hansard gang are up to? If they wanted independence from MS, why on earth not just coopt existing open source software and put a bit of dosh into it?

The tramp: I'll be selling the Big Issue if I don't get back to my paperwork, all done on a laptop running CentOS with Libreoffice. And yes, the hard drive is encrypted just to stop that 'data found on laptop left on the bus' issue.

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Mushroom

idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

keep the data in your OWN cloud, keep the source code to yourselves... no need for an expensive license payment to a foreign company every year either...

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Facepalm

Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

Yes, exactly, have your own cloud, if you like the name or your own servers, if you understand anything. Move to LibreOffice, skip MS, skip being lambs, skip supporting something you have absolutely no reason to support. Using the web, I have sometimes been ordered to upgrade to this or that MS product/version. Consider how much easier and more honest it would be to refer to a product that is free to download and works on almost any OS. Consider the independence and the savings you would achieve. Use your power, your brains, why a lamb for no reasons. Ask for help if you need it, support and take part in LibreOffice.

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Facepalm

Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

MMmm yes, because government IT projects have an excellent history of finishing on time and within budget.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

You're talking about MPs not IT professionals.

You seriously expect them to be able to operate an alternative office suite?

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Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

>keep the data in your OWN cloud

Yes this would seem sensible, particularly as MS Office 365 with IL2 accreditation is available via G-Cloud and so Parliament would avoid all those data sovereignty and security issues that need to be tackled just because Parliament has decided not to use the G-Cloud procurement framework.

Giving Ms credit for being sharp salesmen, it wouldn't surprise me for MS to wrapper the G-Cloud service up and resell it to Parliament as MS Office 365P ('P' for Parliament) at a suitable price premium.

But yes agree it does look like yet another opportunity for the government to reinvest taxpayer's monies in UK-based software expertise has been missed.

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Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

"Move to LibreOffice, skip MS"

The difficulty there is alluded to in the article where it's mentioned they are using Word templates. Based on my very limited experience with a single Govt. dept, these are not just simple templates but programmed (VBScript??) templates which lead the user through filling out forms or reports in a specific way, often for legal reasons.

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Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

"these are not just simple templates but programmed (VBScript??)"

Actually Munich had a lot of trouble with those, however they managed and were able to get those scripts out there and replace them with self written software.

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Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

"You seriously expect them to be able to operate an alternative office suite?"

Of course not. But I do expect them to be able to hire someone who can - for a lot less money than M$$$$.

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Windows

Re: idiots... what better time to develop a self hosted open source solution...

You seriously expect them to be able to operate an alternative office suite?

I doubt that more than a handful of them are actually competent at using the tools they're allegedly already familiar with, so I can't see them being any less able with any alternative.

It's not as though LibreOffice was staggeringly dissimilar from Microsoft Office, especially Microsoft Office 2003 which is what they've all been using until very recently. I should think the ribbon has proved more of a challenge than switching to LibreOffice would have been.

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Malice or incompetence?

I honestly can't work out which it is.

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Re: Malice or incompetence?

Assume it's malice. Generations of 30-year-rule revelations have shown that it's a safe bet.

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Re: Malice or incompetence?

You mis-spelled "and".

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I think this was covered in BOFH 12

"So you want to keep data which is local, only ever going to be local, only needed locally, never accessed remotely, not WANTED to be made available outside our building, which can only WEAKEN our security by being off site, hosted offsite."

"On the cloud. Yes."

"Why?"

"Well, because it's the way of the future."

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Anonymous Coward

The person responsible for this folly needs sacked.

I do not want my details held in a cloud based service ran by a 3rd party.

I can choose partners to trade with, I can not chose the civil servants whose decisions are usually very poor, based on their track record!

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JQW

No, they shouldn't be sacked. They should be arrested and charged with treason, as that's what effectively they've done.

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