Microsoft's Azure for government will have a US touch

Microsoft plans to offer a public cloud environment for U.S. government agencies. The Windows Azure U.S. Government Cloud will be a community cloud for state, local and federal government agencies hosted in Microsoft data centers located in the United States and managed by U.S. citizens, according to Susie Adams, Microsoft’s federal chief technology advisor.

The concept is similar to what Microsoft has done with Office 365, which offers messaging, collaboration and office productivity software in a public cloud, Adams said during an interview. In May 2012, Microsoft unveiled Office 365 for Government, a multitenant service that stores U.S. government data in a segregated community cloud.  

News of the Azure government cloud comes a week after Microsoft officials reported that the Azure public cloud received Provisional Authority to Operate under the government’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program

Microsoft’s goal is to offer organizations the option to use the flavor of cloud that best suits their needs – on-premise, private, public or government community cloud – and at the same time give users the ability to move workloads from one environment to another seamlessly, Adams said.

For instance, Windows Azure is the only cloud environment offering both infrastructure as a service and platform as a service “in an integrated fashion” so users can move workloads back and forth from an industry-hosted to government platform, she said.  Windows Azure offers three categories of services:

  • Compute, which consists of provisioning virtual machines and other clouds services.
  • Data services, which include storage and relational database hosting.
  • App services, which include Active Directory and multi-factor authentication services.

Microsoft is not saying when Azure for government will be available, but the community cloud will be FedRAMP-compliant, Adams said.  Microsoft “is working with partners like Lockheed Martin, who help us meet the government-mandated requirements,” Adams wrote in a blog post

The government community cloud will be housed in two specially constructed data centers, in Boydton, Va.and Des Moines, Iowa, with logical, physical, and network isolation from Azure Public Cloud, Adams said.

The government cloud news comes as part of a larger announcement by Microsoft about new products, programs and partnerships to help organizations capitalize on the opportunities of cloud computing. Complementing Office 365 and other cloud services, the new offerings deliver on Microsoft’s hybrid cloud strategy that connects IT and data infrastructure, application platform and development, and device management and business solutions. New versions of Windows Server, System Center, Visual Studio, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, SQL Server and Dynamics solutions will accelerate cloud benefits for organizations, according to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise executive vice president. 

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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