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ARPA funds provide Microsoft 365 purchase

By Dana Casadei

The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Monday, March 11, approved the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) expenditure to purchase the license and implementation of Office 365, Exchange Online, and Microsoft Entra ID.

In total, this purchase will cost $46,098. This cost will include the licensing for 251 Exchange Online users, 51 Office 365 G1 users, all 302 users receiving an Entra ID license, as well as support and implementation.

This purchase will change a few elements to the email system of those who work for the township. 

“Currently, all of our Exchange email is here. With that, we’re bound to equipment, bound to storage requirements, and doing backups locally, then to the cloud,” said Wil Babichak, director of information technology for Bloomfield Township.

That will no longer be the case with this purchase, which will allow for everything to go directly to the Microsoft Azure Government cloud.

Some may be wondering how safe switching to this cloud will be, and the answer is: very.

The Azure Government cloud is operated by screened U.S. personnel, allows the township’s data sovereignty to stay in the U.S., gives instant scalability, as well as being a secure and compliant cloud only for the U.S. government.

With the township’s infinite scalability, they won’t have to worry about storage running out like they do now, officials said. Having it all on the cloud will also make it easier for IT to maintain everything and have an overall greater reliability. 

Those working for the township will now be able to go global with their emails through this purchase, Babinchak pointed out.

Right now, authentication only occurs on-premise, and is limited by the kind of device being used, as well as who is using it. Because of that, email isn’t usually supplied outside the U.S. without a special request to IT, who would need one’s geo location when granting that sort of permission.

Entra ID licenses – which there will be one of for every user – can provide access to data and email across the world. It’s considered a signal for where one is, what type of device they’re using, who is using it, and if they’re enrolled in the Bloomfield Township system or not. 

Entra ID does provide conditional access too, which means that IT can see specific conditions that they have laid out, and if something looks suspicious – say someone trying to access a township employee’s email from a new device in California at 3 a.m. – and they can ask to re-authenticate that person, or may ask for multi-factor authentication.

The Microsoft licensing will be purchased through a pre-bid Omnia contract, which the township is already authorized to purchase from.

Bloomfield Township received $4,407,946 from the ARPA in total last year, and has to have it all obligated by the end of December 2024.


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