Microsoft touts top secret cloud ATO

locked cloud in a bubble 

Microsoft announced its top secret, air-gapped Azure cloud regions have received authorization to operate and are "generally available" for national security workloads.

Tom Keane, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Azure Global, wrote in an Aug. 16 blog post that Azure Top Secret offers separate regions, "multiple options for data residency" and is launching with more than 60 services with more set to come online.

The services included under Azure Government Top Secret include advanced analytics functions designed to "help human analysts more rapidly extract intelligence, identify trends and anomalies, broaden perspectives, and find new insights," while also supporting interoperability with other cloud services.

Microsoft was working toward a top secret classification as a key deliverable on the now-defunct $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract with the Department of Defense. The JEDI solicitation stipulated that the winner be able to field secret and top secret cloud capacity within a specified time frame. While JEDI was cancelled, Microsoft is set to be one of the key vendors in its replacement contract vehicle, which has yet to be named or announced.

The company announced its plans to seek approval for top secret cloud regions in December 2020, when the JEDI contract was still in effect. Microsoft also has customers in law enforcement and elsewhere in the intelligence community. Notably, Azure and Office 365 are available across the intelligence community via the ICITE (Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise) common platform through a joint enterprise licensing agreement with Dell, Inc.

Microsoft will also be able to leverage its high security classification in the event that it prevails in its protest of a $10 billion single-award contract to Amazon Web Services made by the National Security Agency. FCW's sibling publication Washington Technology was the first to report on that protest of the contract known as "WildandStormy."

According to the report in Washington Technology, NSA is looking to move away from its on-premise cloud solution to a more hybrid approach.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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