Battle for the Cloud: Microsoft Offers Local Azure Stack cloud Service to Governments

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Global cloud services giant, Microsoft Inc. has announced its plans to roll-out a new cloud solution that will allow government agencies run Azure’s cloud computing platform on their own private servers while they retain their access to Microsoft’s cloud services. The platform will be rolled-out in the middle of this year.

This will make 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. Last October, Microsoft announced Azure Government Secret and this roll-out indicates a making major progress in delivering this cloud designed to meet the regulatory and compliance requirements of the intelligence community.

According to Tom Keane, Microsoft Azure’s head of global infrastructure, this new offering has been designed to appeal to governments and agencies with specific needs for on-premise servers, such as in military operations, foreign envoys or special base units abroad.

Analysts are of the opinion that this new solution comes as competition against Amazon.com Inc for major clients in the public sector.  Techcrunch reports that last fall Amazon announced that it will offer a “secret region” designed especially for the needs U.S. intelligence agencies.

Experts pointed out then that Amazon’s revelation of its AWS Secret Region was in a way beating Microsoft’s to its own announcement of Azure Government Secret, which also supports classified workloads.

The cloud computing market is forecast to grow to $74.7 billion in 2018.This totals a nearly 36 percent up from 2017, according to research by a firm, Canalys. As it stands, Amazon Web Services is the leader in the market with a 32 percent share while Microsoft is in second place with 14 percent. The announcement is Microsoft’s stroke to keep its head up above the waters, sort of.

With it, governments can access innovation including artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of things; enable more collaborative, mobile work styles to increase productivity and attract new talent and meet their mission goals of improving life for citizens.

But how far will the new solution fare?

Josh Stella, chief executive of Fugue, a startup that makes automation software for the cloud that helps government clients keep their systems in compliance with regulations is of the opinion that offering an on-premise version of cloud computing is appealing to government clients that want the benefits of this new technology but need to keep data locally for compliance or logistical reasons. Hence, Microsoft is on the right track

“Having that option of being able to build your tooling around cloud infrastructure but being able to run it all locally expedites the opportunity to move to the cloud,” he said.


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