Microsoft on Monday announced the general availability of Azure Government Top Secret, a cloud service for government agencies that need to manage top-secret data. The offering is launching with more than 60 services and the promise of more to come soon.
Microsoft has achieved the Authorization to Operate (ATO) Azure Government Top Secret infrastructure in accordance with Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 503, a set of policies for IT systems used by intelligence agencies. They've also achieved ATO for facilities accredited to meet the ICD 705 standards for physical and technical security.
Azure Government Top Secret, unveiled back in December, offers customers access to multiple geographically separate regions. This can help them meet data residency requirements, as well as offer continuity of operations and resilience. Its air-gapped regions of Azure are designed for workloads classified at the US Top Secret level.
The service joins the existing family of Azure clouds available to US government users, including Azure Government and Azure Government Secret, along with the Azure public cloud. The portfolio, developed in collaboration with the US government, aims to cover data at all classification levels, whether it lives on-premise, in the cloud or at the tactical edge. The Defense Department and entities within the US intelligence community and federal civilian agencies all already use the Azure products.
The Azure Government portfolio also offers access to Azure Security Center and Azure Sentinel across all data classifications. This gives users a unified approach to cybersecurity, with the ability to integrate different security point solutions to analyze and protect resources in Azure and other environments.
In addition to bringing Azure Government Top Secret into GA, Microsoft said it added new services to Azure Government Secret, including Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure Functions and Azure App Service. There are now 73 services available on the Government Secret cloud.
While Microsoft has long-established relationships with the US Defense Department and intelligence community, it has recently suffered some high-profile setbacks. After years of competing with Amazon Web Services for the Defense Department's coveted $10 billion, 10-year JEDI cloud contract, Microsoft ultimately lost the deal it initially won. Meanwhile, Microsoft last month filed an official bid protest against the National Security Agency's decision to award a "secret" cloud computing contract to AWS.