Microsoft Rolls Out Custom Versions of Azure for the US DoD
Microsoft is known to provide customized products for government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, to ensure that its products meet the necessary requirements and certifications laid down for these agencies. To add a feather to its cap, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it would create custom versions of its cloud platform, Azure and Office 365, to meet the Impact Level 5 requirements laid down by the US Department of Defense (DoD). This product is expected to be available by the end of 2016, according to a press release.
In this version, Azure and Office 365 will be physically isolated and kept in two new regions dedicated for it. According to the company, these two regions will be located one each in Arizona and Texas, though the exact cities were not made public. To connect to these two centers, other DoD servers can use Microsoft ExpressRoute – Microsoft’s private connection that offers higher levels of security and lower levels of latency. Such a setup is expected to give an extra layer of security for data transmission, especially to access information that are considered to be critical for national security.
With this setup, Microsoft can meet the next level of security requirements namely the Impact Level 5 controls, that are laid down by DoD. This new addition is significant for Microsoft, as it means that Azure cloud products will be an integral part of National Security System Data and other mission critical information. In fact, Microsoft will be the only cloud provider to offer a cloud that meets these stringent requirements, and in this sense, it gives Microsoft an edge over its competitors in a crowded cloud market. Currently, Amazon’s AWS is Level4 compliant, whereas there are no such known certifications for Google.
Earlier, Microsoft’s cloud had the certifications to handle up to DoD’s Impact Level 4, which includes controlled but unclassified data such as privacy information, and protected health information. Though Impact Level 5 is also unclassified data, it includes those that are critical for National Security.
With this new addition, the total number of regions for Azure Government services will go up to six, and this includes Virginia, Iowa, and two unnamed data centers, apart from the new ones. Microsoft claims that its Azure services are being used by more than 70,000 customers in the government sector, and six million end users are accessing its various cloud products.