Microsoft seeks agency try-outs for government cloud platform
- By Mark Rockwell
- Mar 07, 2014
Microsoft is looking for a few federal agencies to stress-test the government-centric cloud platform the company unveiled last fall.
The software giant wants agencies to test its Azure for Government cloud hosting platform as the offering awaits formal FedRAMP authorizations. Azure for Government, said Microsoft Chief Security Officer for Federal Mark Williams, is aimed at civilian and defense agencies looking to boost efficiency -- reducing the number of data centers and shortening patch intervals, for example -- without compromising security.
Azure for Government does not yet have FedRAMP authority to operate (ATO), unlike the already-approved commercial version of the platform, which took about seven months to win FedRAMP ATO from federal agencies. Williams expects about the same amount of time for Azure for Government to get an ATO.
In an October blog post, Microsoft Federal Chief Technology Advisor Susie Adams said the Azure government cloud would feature physical, network and logical isolation, with two specially-constructed data centers with logical, physical and network isolation from Azure Public Cloud.
The supporting facilities for the federal cloud, including all data, hardware, and supporting systems will be in the continental United States, with data residing on servers that contain data only from other U.S. federal, state and local government customers.
According to Williams, Azure's capabilities fit well with federal agencies’ push to drive more business sense into their operations.
"It allows us to build in features that allow new capabilities to be added automatically," he said. For instance, the two to four weeks it can take to add security patch updates to more traditional systems can be added almost instantly with the platform.
Williams said Microsoft has already talked with a number of federal customers, but is still taking on agencies for the test. Those interested can contact the company at FedAzure@microsoft.com to participate.
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.