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Microsoft Updates Government-Focused Cloud Offerings

Microsoft on Tuesday announced several milestones for its roster of cloud services aimed at public sector agencies.

Microsoft Azure Government is now generally available for U.S. government customers, as well as Microsoft solution providers that serve government agencies. Also, Dynamics CRM Online for Government will become generally available in January 2015. (Update: Dynamics CRM Online for Government went live on Jan. 6, 2015.)

The two products, along with Office 365 Government, make up the Microsoft Cloud for Government lineup. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described the lineup as "the most complete cloud for any government organization" in Tuesday's announcement.

Azure Government, which had been in preview since March, is designed to meet the security and compliance requirements of U.S. federal, state and local agencies, including those outlined by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). Use of the Azure Government cloud is limited to government agencies and their partners. Its datacenters, located in Iowa and Virginia, are isolated from other Azure datacenters and are operated by pre-screened employees based in the United States. Data stored in the Azure Government cloud will also remain in the United States.

This blog post by Tom Keane, a director of program management within the Azure team, outlines some of the service's features.

"Applications created for Azure work natively on Azure Government. Azure Government includes a broad spectrum of Azure services, including IaaS, PaaS, Storage, VNETs, Azure Active Directory and SQL DB," Keane wrote. He added, "Azure Active Directory for Government offers a physical and logically isolated namespace partition, allowing the identities of users to be stored at rest in Microsoft Azure Government. At the same time, identities can be used to authenticate with on-premises solutions, as well as single sign-on to Microsoft cloud offerings."

It will also be possible for users to "create secure virtual and private connections" with Azure Government from colocation or on-premises environments. This capability is still in preview, Keane said.

Dynamics CRM Online for Government, which will arrive next month, also complies with FedRAMP requirements. The service will let government agencies "use existing on-premises investments and benefit from integration with Azure and Office 365 government community clouds," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. public sector at Microsoft, first described Dynamics CRM Online for Government in July.

Besides FedRAMP, Microsoft says its Cloud for Government products are compliant with standards set forth by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) and others.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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