data center (ESB Professional/

Microsoft 365 is coming to the Government cloud

Agencies will soon be able to deploy Microsoft 365 cloud-based productivity suite in the company's government cloud environments that are dedicated to meeting U.S. federal compliance and security standards.

Microsoft 365 for US Government will be available in three isolated environments that store data in the continental United States:

  • The Government Community Cloud -- built to serve the civilian government agencies at the federal, state and local levels.
  • GCC High -- dedicated to government customers and contractors handling highly sensitive workloads
  • DoD Cloud -- designed exclusively for agencies within the armed forces.

The Microsoft 365 software-as-a-service offerings are compliant with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, Criminal Justice Information Services standards and the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act.

Microsoft 365 for US Government gives agencies the benefit of cloud services in an environment that complies with requirements for handling controlled unclassified information. The company said the service will improve security because system updates can be deployed faster and help agencies can apply patches faster than they could with on-premises systems.

The service features Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) and Windows 10 and   allows teams to collaborate through OneDrive for business, SharePoint Online and  Skype for Business Online. It also includes Power BI Pro, PowerPoint Designer and Word Editor.

Microsoft 365's EMS provides identity-driven protection for critical data that allows for government employees to work anywhere securely from any device.  Automated file-level data encryption is also possible through Azure Information Protection, Conditional Access with Multifactor Authentication with Azure Active Directory and managing devices with Microsoft InTune.

“The modern workplace tools in Microsoft 365 can help government agencies connect with citizens, work from anywhere using any device, collaborate better across departmental and agency boundaries, gain unique insights into government programs and agency operations, and stay securely connected when they’re in the field,” Josh Rice, general manager for Microsoft’s Worldwide Modern Workplace, wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft also announced plans to integrate Azure Stack into the Azure Government Cloud, which would allow government customers to takes advantage of Microsoft’s SaaS offerings in a hybrid environment that includes their own servers, such as remote field offices or embassies.  The service would allow agencies to run Azure Government on-premises without having to  connect to a cloud service over a possibly insecure internet connection.

“A hybrid cloud helps organizations address requirements around regulations, connectivity, and latency, which is why many government agencies turn to a hybrid approach as the bedrock of their IT modernization strategy,” Natalia Mackevicius, director of Azure Stack, wrote in a blog post. “Hybrid cloud allows government customers to seamlessly use and move between public cloud environments and their own infrastructure.”

Azure Stack enables connections between the Azure cloud to products for identity, subscriptions, registration, billing, backups and Azure Marketplace. Customers will be able to modernize their on-premises legacy applications using Azure services such as containers, web apps and serverless computing.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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