Microsoft digs deep to invest in cloud infrastructure

Microsoft is investing almost $1 billion a month for cloud infrastructure that supports enterprise and regulated industries, such as the federal government. Worldwide, the company has opened a new data center every month to meet customer demand for new options and functions.

“Investments in infrastructure, connectivity, compliance, two-way partnerships between government and industry… is coming together to allow us to put real mission data in the cloud,” Tom Keane, Azure General Manager said.

Keane, who spoke  at a Washington Technology-hosted event on securing the cloud, said he forecasts continued increases in adoption rates across both the civilian, defense and intelligence communities. “We’re entering a wave where the pickup and the adoption is incredible,” 

Keane also told the crowd of defense contractors that Microsoft’s Azure Government is the first cloud platform that fulfills Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement requirements for contractors to handle Defense Department workloads. All government contractor systems must fall into compliance with DFARS with respect to controlled unclassified information by the end of December.

Azure Government already holds a FedRAMP High authorization rating, DISA Information Impact Level 5 and Level 4 DoD Provisional Authorization and DFARS validation from an independent third-party assessment organization.

Microsoft’s goal was to “give suppliers to DoD confidence that they can meet these controls,” Keane said.

Keane offered one such example from industry, drone maker General Atomics uses Azure’s cloud platform to manage research-and-development functions for their manufacturing projects.

Altogether, Keane said Azure meets 58 compliance requirements at the U.S. government, industry and regional levels. And the list keeps growing.

“Whatever industry a customer is in be it financial services, healthcare, defense… you should have the richest set of compliance and assurance guarantees you need in order to drive adoption,” Keane said.

Defense Department Business Technology Officer John Bergin told attendees one role industry can play in cloud adoption efforts is to help the agency customer create a risk management framework with an eye toward shared services.

“When we ask you guys to help us with plans, the consistent themes in industry should be consistent themes in defense,” Bergin added.

Automation will also come down the track with cloud tools as enablers and industry must also play a role in that shift, Bergin said. The trend toward more use of shared services will encompass human resource systems and enterprise email.

DoD’s biggest hurdles to further cloud migrations are in the acquisition process, Navy civilian executive Victor Gavin said. Gavin is the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, information operations and space.

Gavin told attendees the Pentagon is still trying to figure out its role in cloud acquisitions and whether it can adapt to the changes those technologies bring. DoD’s questions cover whether the department wants to own the systems itself and security implications.

“We are going to continue having that debate,” Gavin said.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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