Microsoft is today announcing updates to its Azure Government public cloud, which is tailored to the needs of government agencies. The most interesting bit of news is that Microsoft will be opening up two new Azure data center regions that are specifically intended for the U.S. Department of Defense, a department that includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other entities.
The two new regions will be labeled US DoD East and US DoD West. Microsoft isn’t saying exactly where they’ll be, other than that they’ll be in “physically isolated regions within Azure Government data centers,” according to a company spokesperson.
“These new DoD regions will be designed to meet specific controls and commitments defined in the DoD Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide (SRG) that require the specific engineering controls in place for data permitted to be stored in the cloud,” Microsoft cloud security director Matt Rathbun wrote in a blog post.
The news comes a day after public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) celebrated its 10th birthday. In 2013, AWS beat out IBM for a $600 million contract to build a cloud specifically for the CIA. Today’s Azure announcement is an answer of sorts to that achievement; at least it carries the image of the promise of a lot of defense-oriented cloud business to come, even if it’s not an actual contract with a dollar figure.
Not that the Defense Department is new to the Microsoft cloud. In a blog post in 2014, a Microsoft executive noted that Azure Government “is restricted to only a targeted set of government agencies and their solution providers, including federal, state, local, tribal and the Department of Defense.”
And, of course, the DoD is no stranger to Microsoft technology. In fact, it’s in the process of upgrading some 4 million seats — individual end users — to Windows 10.
In addition to news about the DoD regions, Microsoft is also announcing that Azure Government is in the approval process for the FedRAMP High Impact Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) certification and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Level 4 certification. And several additional Azure services are now available through Azure Government: the Azure D-Series of virtual machines, Azure App Service for web apps, the Azure Key Vault, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Automation, Azure Backup, and Azure Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), Rathbun wrote.