Legal Issues Pre-owned On-premises Software Has Real Value for Public Institutions As Well, and Here's Why

19. September 2019 – Michael Vilain
Challenge Data Privacy
Challenge Data Privacy

Microsoft's Office 365 is a first-class productivity solution, no doubt about that. The combination of online service, office Web application, and software subscription, available for businesses from mid-2011 and for private users as well from 2013, gained a foothold on the market quite rapidly. Microsoft was pleased to announce that Office 365 had already outperformed the "classic" Office Suite in terms of profitability in the 4th quarter of 2017.

However, the benefits of this SaaS solution, which implies not buying the software but rather renting it, come with some drawbacks that call its use into question for quite a number of user groups. The automatic updates that help keep Office 365 up to date at all times can cause compatibility issues with the existing hardware and software infrastructure and in turn to serious productivity drops, for instance. Public authorities and businesses can also face the issue that Office 365 may well turn out to be exceedingly costly for them, which we have calculated in an example here.

Pre-owned on-premise software has multiple benefits

There is another aspect apart from these functional and economical obstacles, however, that can turn out to be a problem for public institutions in particular, which is the yet unsolved issue of compliance with data privacy standards. Data processing sovereignty takes absolute priority in public authorities, schools, and other institutions operated in public interest. Data streams and processing procedures need to be transparent and completely traceable at all times. For the reason that personal data might be accessible by third parties when this sensitive information is stored in remote data centres the use of Office 365 has long been an object of controversy.

In the Netherlands, for example, the DPA issued a number of recommendations in order to minimize privacy risks, including:

  • SharePoint / OneDrive should not be used
  • The use of the web version of Office 365 should be avoided as far as possible
  • For confidential or sensitive data, a version of Office should be used which is operated locally and without a Microsoft account

So there are definitely not only financial reasons for pre-owned on-premise software being sought after in public institutions. It actively helps protect sensitive personal information as well.

copyright article image: © Pete Linforth/Pixabay

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