As part of a larger company release of cloud computing-based products, programs and partnerships, Microsoft announced this week it will roll out a public cloud environment for data, applications and infrastructure designed exclusively for use by U.S. federal, state and local government agencies.
In a blog post entitled “Coming soon: Government-focused cloud services, ” Susie Adams, Microsoft’s federal chief technology advisor, said the company will host the community cloud in U.S. datacenters using different locations, networks and servers than its Azure public cloud used by commercial entities.
Microsoft will work with partners such as Lockheed Martin to meet government-mandated requirements for the Azure U.S. Government Cloud and Adams added that company personnel with at least Public Trust security clearances based in the U.S. will manage the datacenters.
Windows Azure recently received the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board Provisional Authority to Operate that certifies its Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service meet security standards for use by government agencies.
Adams said that Microsoft’s Azure platform is the first public cloud platform with infrastructure and platform services to receive a JAG P-ATO. The ‘authority to operate’ was designated by officials from the U.S. General Services Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department.
“FedRAMP builds upon the existing baseline security controls in place today, adding a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud services, ” Adams said, adding “this approach uses a ‘do once, use many times’ framework.”
Adams said Microsoft pursues “flexibility” in its provision of cloud computing services and can design and deploy a “combination of on-premises, private, public or hybrid cloud environments based on security requirements.”
Eric Blattberg of Venture Beat points out that Microsoft currently has government customers of its Azure cloud, such as the City of San Jose, and its “more formal” offering will position it to compete for larger deals.