Microsoft Azure government cloud now generally available

Microsoft's Azure Government cloud is now generally available to U.S. government customers. A CRM Online government cloud offering is still on track for early next year.

Microsoft's Azure Government cloud -- a locked-down version of Azure designed expressly for U.S. government customers -- became generally available as of December 9.

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Microsoft announced plans for a government cloud offering in October 2013, and made available the private preview of Azure for Government, codenamed "Fairfax," in March 2014. "Over one hundred" government customers and solution providers tested that preview release, according to the company.

Azure Government is for government agencies (federal, state, local, tribal and the Department of Defense) and their resellers/solution providers. Its datacenters are secured and operated and supported by U.S. citizens with background screening. All customer data, content, organizational data, hardware, networking, phyiscal infrastructure and supporting personnel are in the continental U.S. There's also a dedicated East Coast region designed to be close to Washington D.C. and surrounding area customers to help provide high-speed connections due to proximity.

The certifications and accreditations that will be provided to Azure Government users include:

  • United States Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)
  • Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)/Enterprise Cloud Service Broker (ECSB)
  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
  • Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075 Tax Information Security Guidelines for Federal, State and Local Agencies and Entities
  • 21 CFR Part 11 and Annex 11 (FDA)

Microsoft officials also reiterated this week their release timing for Microsoft's coming Dynamics CRM Online for Government offering, which Microsoft unveiled in July 2014. That cloud service will be available in January 2015, and will be based on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online public cloud platform, with added FedRAMP compliance and, like the Azure Government offering, operated by cleared U.S. personnel.

These two new government cloud offerings complement the already introduced Office365 Government cloud.

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