Microsoft Makes a Big Play to Become Government Cloud Provider

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Mark Lennihan/AP File Photo

Azure Government is Microsoft’s answer to Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud.

Microsoft is going hard after the federal cloud computing market.

On Tuesday, the enterprise software behemoth flew its top dog, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, to Washington, D.C., to announce the general availability of Microsoft Azure Government and the January release of Dynamics CRM.

Azure Government is Microsoft’s answer to Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud. It’s a cloud built for government customers only, capable of providing compute, storage, data, networking and other services under the government’s rigorous security standards, including the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.

Dynamics CRM is a suite of customer relationship management tools offered on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid combination of both.  

Combined with Dynamics CRM and Office 365 Government, Nadella said Azure Government is “the most complete cloud for any government organization.”

He suggested that government chief information officers consider it for their missions.

“The thing I’m most excited about is how we are bringing together the platform in Azure but applications in 365 and Dynamics, those three things are architected well together,” said Nadella, speaking at yesterday’s Microsoft’s Government Cloud Summit.

Nadella referred to Azure Government as “a complete, hyperscale platform."

“How do you bring the interests of end users, IT organizations and developers together and harmonize them?” Nadella asked. “That’s when magic happens. That’s what creates platforms.”

Microsoft and Google are considered the biggest challengers to a very dominant AWS in the growing cloud computing market. However, Microsoft has the built-in advantages of brand familiarity – it would be nigh impossible to find a federal employee who hasn’t used Word, Excel or sat through a PowerPoint presentation – and a whole slew of existing enterprise Office 365 contracts.

And while Microsoft Windows continues to be the dominant operating system in both the private and public sectors, Nadella said Azure Government will have “first-class support for Windows and Linux.”

Early government adopters include the state of Alabama, which tapped Azure to host its Medicaid health information exchange, and the state of Texas, which uses Office 365 for e-mail-as-a-service. The U.S. Navy is also making use of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud-based tool suite.