Microsoft to field a Cloud OS for government: Sources

Microsoft to field a Cloud OS for government: Sources

Summary: Microsoft may be readying one or more versions of its Cloud OS tailored specifically for government customers.


Microsoft may be readying one or more versions of its cloud operating system that would be customized for government users, according to my sources.


Currently, Microsoft sells the same set of Windows Azure and Windows Server offerings to government users, alongside all other types of users.

But sources of mine who asked not to be named say there could be one or more versions of Microsoft's Cloud OS platform -- meaning Microsoft's set of public, private and hybrid cloud offerings -- in the works.

The private cloud version of Microsoft's Cloud OS offering may be codenamed "Fairfax," according to my contacts. Fairfax, Virg., is the home of the General Services Administration, and close to other U.S. government agencies. I believe Fairfax is meant for U.S. government users. (I don't know if there might be versions specific to governments in other countries somewhere down the line.)

A Microsoft government cloud OS would be, in some ways, similar to the Office 365 for Government offering which Microsoft rolled out a year ago. Office 365 for Government is a multi-tenant service that stores US government data in a segregated community cloud. 

This Cloud OS for government -- if an when it materializes -- wouldn't be based on the Windows Azure OS per se, as Azure only runs in Microsoft's own datacenters. Instead, it would be a customized variant of Windows Server, with physical servers residing on site at government locations, my sources say.

I'd assume Windows Azure Pack will play a key role in any kind of Cloud OS for government offering. Windows Azure Pack includes the persistent virtual machine, service bus, portal, Web sites and a few other components previously available only as part of Windows Azure for use on Windows Server and targeted at hosters.

One of my sources said Microsoft officials have discussed internally the idea of an Azure/cloud OS for the government, but was unsure if this had made it beyond the planning stages at this point.

I asked Microsoft whether Azure for Government and/or something akin to Office 365 for Government was in the works on the operating system side of the house and didn't hear back.

One Microsoft cloud partner said the idea of a cloud OS for government makes sense.

"Contrary to popular belief, 'one cloud to rule them all' will likely not work in the near term," said Sinclair Schuller, CEO of Apprenda Inc, which has developed a private platform as a service (PaaS) offering. "Different industries and sectors have wildly different requirements and regulatory environments. The government is notoriously demanding when it comes to infrastructure and cloud expectations, so having a government specific Azure SKU makes a lot of sense if Microsoft plans on winning that business."

Topics: Cloud, Government, Microsoft, Windows Server


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Gotta do something to take out the back doors...

    Since Azure is nonportable (by their own admission), they still indicate an attempt at a massive lockin.
    • Every platform is a lockin

      Only suckers rate portability over ease to use.
      • Btw such hybrid Cloud OS is already in use

        ING bank is using one right now as far as I can tell. It's not like MSFT needs to code a new platform. Their existing Win2012 server can run it now.
      • Only suckers pick a dying vendor...

        Lockin is NEVER a good choice. Expedient sometimes. But never a good choice.

        Especially when there are so many better ones out there.
        • Where is the "dying vendor", and which ones are better?

          What you wish or imagine, is all in your head.
          • No kidding...

            Microsoft is twisting in the wind in the consumer market, no doubts lie there. Windows Server is not a consumer product. Servers are to Microsoft what printers are to HP: as long as corporations keep using Windows Server, Microsoft has all the room they need to make mistakes with Windows products.
        • Then good thing they aren't picking Google, as I agree

          Lockin is NEVER a good choice. Expedient sometimes. But never a good choice, so steer clear from Google.

          You never know when they're going to drop services because they aren't profitable, ask those who spending millions to deveop on a Google platform only to have it pulled out from under them

          Especially when there are so many better ones out there, like MS and Amazon
          William Farrel
          • The MS Schill

            In every software discussion, there they are, the MS Schills. It's not like MS did not pull any dirty tricks or any anti-trust maneuvers. You think we all got short memories or what? Some companies that went out of business, because of the MS anti-compete shenanigans: Netscape? Word Perfect? Lotus? Borland? to name a few. Not because MS had better products, but because they had control of the market (the OS) and the FUD machine. Remember "Windows is not done until Lotus won't run". Apple is trying the the same maneuvers, but the most installed OS in the world is Android, more than Windows and iOS combined. "Linux by any other name". Hey where is Windows 8? Last?
          • Living in the past

            That was last decade and last century. Its 2013. Apple is the new Microsoft of the 90's which was the IBM of the 80's.

            BTW, Lotus SUCK!!!!!! I can not say that loud enough. My company is working hard to get off of that mess and its a pain.

            And I am a fan of Android but Android is Windows of the past in its problems with infections and hacks. Windows 8, WP8, and RT are all far more secure. This is not a slight on Linux but how Android was implemented along with its eco-system. More and more open=infected. It sucks but its true.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • Let me clarify that...

            When I say open, I am not talking open source but open platform that is not locked down. You can lock down Linux just fine. Android is too open and "trusting" as a platform in a world that is not kind.
            Rann Xeroxx
  • Too rich

    Confirms one's enduring faith in the bloated American government that it will always pay top price for inferior goods and no possibility of escape.
  • Yeah, put the whole government in the cloud...

    Then hackers will have a field day releasing tons of information on the illegal activities of the U.S. government.

    Maybe they should be launched into deep space, instead of the cloud.
    • That worked out so well for the NSA

      you know, not having their info in the cloud where a guy like Snowden couldn't get it
      William Farrel
      • interesting

        Wasn't it exactly an cloud-like SharePoint system, where Snowden got all the info from?

        Traditional NSA-type systems never run on Windows and cannot be hacked this way.
  • private or hybrid cloud

    knowing the industry for the last 36 years, my believe is that only when businesses have a private and/or hybrid cloud option, are the adoption rates going to grow.

    most cloud operations operate OUTSIDE of the confines of common business policy and/or industry regulations. this creates a "loser lose all" scenario. (even when blessed by the business as a good strategy or practice, once things go wrong (poor performance, not living up to SLA terms, etc.), this is a LOSE ALL scenario. (An Azure customer can't simply say "hey, I want it back" and carry their Azure goods off to another vendor for service.)

    Cloud operations which skirt common business policy or violate industry regulations are deemed rouge by management and eventually the IT culprits are pinpointed and dealt with (or management does a "flip-flop" when the deal goes south).
  • A more streamlined way to spy on American Citizens.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was tied into helping gather information on all American people to hand over to the government on a silver platter. As for your sources wanting to remain anonymous. That will work until you have FBI or DHS knocking on your door threatening you to hand over the sources the same way they've done recently.
  • Microsoft to field a Cloud OS for government: Sources

    Now Microsoft want to put a another one of there Swiss Cheese OS in the cloud so our government can be easily attacked.

    Microsoft will have to add patch Thursday to go along with patch Tuesday just to keep up with all the attacks we'll be facing.

    Wounder who thought of that BS idea.

    They're probably giving them all the un sold Surface RT to close the deal or all the worthless free apps they want from the app store.
    Over and Out
  • At least they

    will be able to get your private information with out taxing the Internet.

    All they have to do is go across the Data Center network (10+gig) from the NSA servers at Microsofts data center over to the Office 365/ servers, complete with Microsoft's help to crack their customers encryption.

    They will spin it as a "green initiative".
  • Microsoft to field a Cloud OS for government: Sources

    It makes sense. Microsoft has proven what they can do for OS's, clouds, and security. Combine the three and you got a great government infrastructure.
    • had the nervve so say "it makes sennse"

      Nothing you have ever said makes sense ...except for when you admited Surface RT is a failure. I was in shock when you said that.
      Over and Out