Microsoft Azure Government Top Secret: Designed for U.S. National Security Workloads

Microsoft has announced the general availability of Azure Government Top Secret, which provides national security leaders with access to more than 60 Azure services. The release comes after Microsoft achieved the Authorization to Operate (ATO) for Azure Government Top Secret infrastructure in accordance with Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 503 and facilities accredited to meet ICD 705 standards.

Azure Government Top Secret enables national security leaders working with highly sensitive data to deliver containerized applications, serverless workloads and web applications supported by built-in infrastructure maintenance and security patching, Microsoft stated. In doing so, it accelerates the delivery of national security workloads classified at the U.S. Top Secret level.

Among the key questions: Will the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA) — which works with 67 MSSPs — empower partners to work in and around Azure Government Top Secret, or would MSSP access defeat the cloud system’s design? We’ve reached out to Microsoft for perspectives on that question.

What Does Azure Government Top Secret Offer?

In the meantime, Microsoft has disclosed that Azure Government Top Secret services include:

  • Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS): Delivers a managed Kubernetes service for container deployment and management.
  • Azure Functions: Offers an event-driven serverless compute platform that can solve orchestration problems.
  • Azure App Service: Provides a managed web hosting service for building web apps, services and RESTful APIs.

In addition, Azure Government Top Secret offers multiple geographically separate regions and provides national security leaders with myriad options for data residency, continuity of operations and resilience to support their workloads, Microsoft stated. It also can be connected to classified networks and offers private, high-bandwidth connectivity with Azure ExpressRoute.

A Closer Look at Azure Government

Azure Government enables government agencies and their partners to store, manage and secure mission-critical workloads in the cloud, Microsoft said. It uses physically isolated data centers and networks located exclusively in the United States.

Government agencies can use Azure Government services to handle data that is subject to various government regulations and requirements, according to Microsoft. These services are available to federal, state and local government agencies.

Microsoft Azure rivals — including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) — also have government-centric clouds options. They include AWS GovCloud and Google Cloud for Government.

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