NHSmail to launch hybrid service with Office 365

Summary

NHSmail is working with Microsoft to provide a hybrid version of Office 365 (O365) that integrates the NHSmail Directory, Exchange and Skype for Business services. Further information is available on the NHSmail Portal help pages under ‘NHSmail Office 365 Hybrid’.

 

What and when

This new service will assist staff in health and social care to work more efficiently and collaboratively, and thus strengthen the patient care provided - all through more readily and securely shared information between health and social care organisations.

The NHSmail directory will be synchronised with the Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to enable O365 services. 

An alpha pilot is planned for May/June 2018 followed by a beta in July. The final version should be available this autumn.

Benefits

O365 is a subscription-based cloud productivity suite that includes services such as OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Teams and Yammer. NHSmail users that have an active O365 subscription will benefit from close integration between NHSmail and O365 components including:

  • collaboration on documents and in-group conversations through these applications with users in external organisations, not just internally
  • presence status in O365 products like Yammer and SharePoint will line to their Skype for Business presence status

Azure AD is a cloud-based directory that enables secure identity management for NHSmail. Users can log in to NHSmail and O365 platforms using the same NHSmail address and same password for each - so there is no need to remember multiple credentials for different services.

Through the NHSmail portal, organisations will have access to administration features for O365 services such as assigning licenses, enabling applications and creating SharePoint sites.

Security and data hosting

There will be no change to the NHSmail Exchange and Skype for Business services which will remain outside of the O365 tenant and continue to be hosted within NHSmail data centres in England. O365 services will be hosted in EU or US data centres in accordance with the recently published guidance for hosting data outside of the UK - NHS and social care data: on off-shoring and the use of public cloud services

Cost and funding

Both NHS and non-NHS users will see no change to how they currently access NHSmail and organisations will not incur additional license costs from synchronisation with Azure AD.

O365 licenses must be procured by NHS organisations directly from Microsoft or their license reseller as they do today - O365 licenses will not be available to procure through NHSmail. Organisations are not required to procure Azure AD licenses to consume the O365 service. 

You will be able to register your organisation to use the NHSmail O365 hybrid service via the NHSmail Portal, where you can submit your O365 license details for allocation to the central NHSmail tenant.

The expected costs to both NHS and non-NHS organisations (such as social care) is the cost of the O365 licence only if the organisation wishes to use the NHSmail O365 hybrid service.