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December 9, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Microsoft officially unveils its government-ready cloud

Microsoft’s government-branded cloud is open for business.

The company has been welcoming governments that want to use Microsoft data centers for years, of course. But in releasing what it calls Azure government cloud, Microsoft aims to create an off-the-shelf type product that will convince more corners of the U.S. government that its data centers are safe and reliable.

What’s the difference between storing data for a government and regular folks? Microsoft offers to physically segregate sensitive government data storage and computer power from its other servers, and restrict access to the data to screened U.S. citizens. The company also offers support for a paper-trail roadmap that can keep government agencies in compliance with citizens’ privacy or other legal standards. (Microsoft put together a graphic of the alphabet soup of regulations the government cloud is designed to play nicely with.)

Microsoft in 2012 committed to stitching together the various arms of its cloud offerings in a way tailored for government agencies.

This summer, the company announced a preview of a government version of its Azure cloud software environment and invited agencies to try out the service.

That service is ready to go today, joining the previously released Office 365 for government. A government tailored version of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM sales, marketing and customer service engine, will follow in January.

Just about every company that offers data storage, from Microsoft and fellow cloud market leaders and Google, to smaller cloud players like Oracle, Cisco and IBM advertise some version of a government-tailored cloud. There’s a lot of money at stake.

The federal government estimates it spends more than $70 billion a year on information technology. State and local governments spend $60 billion, according to Deltek, a software company that focuses on government contracting. A White House report estimated that perhaps a quarter of that spending could be migrated to cloud services.

On Tuesday Microsoft touted a roster of government cloud customers:

  • The state of Texas is using 110,000 seats of Office 365, the Web-based version of the email and productivity suite.
  • Alabama is using a combination of Microsoft’s cloud and its own data centers to host and manage Alabama’s Medicaid health information exchange.
  • Closer to home, King County is migrating some of its customer relationship functions to Microsoft’s cloud.

See Microsoft’s blog post on the news here.


Comments | More in Cloud computing | Topics: azure, dynamics, government


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