Microsoft Customises Cloud, Offline Azure Services For US Government

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Follow on: Google +

Microsoft has released a government edition of the Microsoft 365 bundle, with Azure Stack set to link to the Azure Government cloud

Microsoft has said governments will soon be able to run its Azure cloud technology on their own servers, as the company continues to aggressively compete with cloud services leader Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Microsoft also announced the immediate availability of customised versions of Microsoft 365 for US government agencies, bringing together Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) linked to a secure government cloud data centre.

The Microsoft 365 offering includes automated compliance with federal data standards such as FedRamp, and Microsoft noted the system would receive security updates more quickly than many government bodies with on-premises deployments.

“Our ability to dramatically speed up the timeline can result in real ROI (return on investment) savings—and better protected citizen data—for our government cloud customers,” wrote Josh Rice, general manager for Microsoft Worldwide Modern Workplace, in a blog post.

White HouseSecret workloads

Microsoft said it would offer three versions of the product, one for civilian government agencies at the state, local and federal level, a second for government bodies dealing with secret material, such as military organisations, and a third specifically for the Department of Defence.

In mid-2018 Microsoft said it would begin offering a version of Azure Stack that integrates with the Azure Government cloud.

The product means governments can run Azure Stack on-premises, while connecting to Azure Government cloud services such as identity, subscription, registration, billing, backup/DR and Azure Marketplace.

The offering is designed for government bodies who want to deploy Azure technology in environments that don’t necessarily have a secure link to remote servers, such as field offices, embassies, tanks or submarines.

“With Azure Stack, it becomes possible to process data in the field without worrying about latency or internet connectivity, and then run aggregated analytics in Azure Government to get the most precise predictions and anomaly detections,” wrote Azure Stack director Natalia Mackevicius.

Agencies can use Azure Stack to move workloads to on-premises systems that can later be shifted to cloud servers without further changes to code, developer tools, processes or staff skills, Mackevicius said.

eurofighter eads military aircraft plane defence © Graham Taylor ShutterstockCloud growth

Microsoft has said it plans to launch two new Azure Secret regional instances for high-security government organisations later this year. The data centres are to be cleared for files marked up to DoD Impact Level 6, higher than the Level 5 current facilities are cleared for.

Canalys says it expects the cloud computing market to reach $74.7 billion (£54bn) this year, up nearly 36 percent from 2017. AWS led the market with 32 percent, with Microsoft at 14 percent, according to Canalys estimates for the fourth quarter of last year.

Amazon leads in the public sector as well, with clients including the CIA.

How well do you know the cloud? Try our quiz!