In an effort to attract more government clients, Microsoft said it will integrate Azure Stack, its hybrid cloud platform, with Azure Government in the middle of this year. Azure Stack will let government agencies run Azure’s cloud computing platform on their own private servers while retaining access to Microsoft’s cloud services. This makes it easier for clients to protect sensitive data, including classified information, that need to be kept in on-premise servers, and be compliant with data regulations.
Microsoft Azure competes closely for public sector customers with Amazon Web Services, which had a head start because it signed a $600 million deal in 2013 to serve the Central Intelligence Agency, which John Edwards, the CIA’s chief information officer, described last year as the “best decision we ever made” because it allows the agency to work more efficiently and cut costs associated with maintaining legacy software.
Microsoft, however, is intent on catching up with Amazon and both companies have been busy adding services designed for government clients. For example, last fall Amazon announced that it now offers a “secret region” designed especially for the needs U.S. intelligence agencies. Amazon’s reveal of its AWS Secret Region came on the heels of Microsoft’s own announcement of Azure Government Secret, which also supports classified workloads.