Microsoft launches Azure Government Top Secret cloud to handle classified data

Microsoft is adding a new offering to its Azure cloud family for U.S. government customers: Azure Government Top Secret. It's also bringing more of its services to Azure Government Secret.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is taking the wraps off Azure Government Top Secret, a new cloud offering for those who need to manage top-secret classified data. The new offering joins the existing family of Azure clouds available to U.S. government users, including Azure Government and Azure Government Secret -- along with the Azure public cloud.

Microsoft is working with the U.S. government on getting accreditation for its Government Top Secret cloud. Officials said on December 7 that the company recently completed the build-out of new Azure Government Top Secret regions. Microsoft execs noted that the consistency among its various flavors of Azure means it is easier for development to happen anywhere and code to be promoted seamlessly to enclaves with higher classification levels.

Microsoft also announced today new functionality for its Azure Government Secret cloud, which officials said is being used in the U.S. Department of Defense, law enforcement, and other agencies. Government Secret is authorized by the DoD Impact Level 6 and Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 503. Windows Virtual Desktop is now available in Azure Government with FedRAMP High accreditation, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft's Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and Azure Container Instances already are available in Government Secret. On the security front, Azure Sentinel, its proactive threat-management service, and Azure Security Center also are already available in Government Secret.

Microsoft also is announcing today Availability Zones for Azure Government. Availability Zones are built to handle datacenter failures via redundancy and logical isolation of services. And it is adding its own Azure edge-computing devices, including the recently announced Azure Modular Datacenter, and ruggedized versions of Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge Pro, and Azure Stack Edge Mini R to its "tactical edge" portfolio.

The Azure Modular Datacenter -- available at Impact Levels 5 and 6 -- is getting a new Network High Availability Module for network resiliency through multiple satellite connection partners in different orbits, as well as a High Availability Power Module. Azure Modular Datacenter is a portable version of an Azure datacenter that currently runs Azure Stack and is available to government customers and those who need portable data centers that have the option of satellite connectivity.

Microsoft made these government cloud announcements as part of its annual Government Leaders Summit.

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