Microsoft Introduces Cloud Offerings for Where Networks Aren’t

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The company's offerings are to support disaster response and military efforts in remote or network-deprived locations.

Microsoft unveiled two product offerings Monday that give it a play in offering cloud services at the “tactical edge”—areas where network connectivity is poor, mobility and portability are required, and circumstances are not ideal.

The company announced the offerings, called the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack and Azure Data Box, in a blog post and suggested they will support military needs, humanitarian efforts and disaster response campaigns. They will be available to federal, state and local customers.

Ostensibly, the offerings are also likely to appear in Microsoft’s bid for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, which the Pentagon bid out late last year. JEDI’s solicitation required “ruggedized” computing platforms capable of operating in low-latency, harsh environments such as battlefields.

“As U.S. government agencies support missions around the world, in remote locations, and beyond the reach of standard infrastructure, new technology is required for mission success,” said Tad Brockway, general manager of Azure Storage & Azure Stack. “Azure Stack and our Data Box family of products help government agencies with remote operations access the information they need to make decisions at the edge, along with access to the full range of cloud data analytics as connectivity allows.”

The Azure Stack offering, sold through Dell EMC, essentially allows users to spin up the same cloud services and applications in remote environments as they do in traditional “on-premises” environments. According to Dell EMC, stacks are fully mobile, portable, meet military specifications and high-security requirements, “with optional connectivity” to Azure Government, Azure Secret or Azure Top Secret regions.

Azure Data Box helps process and transfer data in edge-based scenarios while offering some machine learning capabilities.