The Microsoft Corporation announced on Monday that it will soon be making its cloud technology Azure available for government clients to run on their own servers.
The new offering, named Azure Government, will be made available in mid-2018. “It is designed to appeal to governments and agencies with needs for on-premise servers, such as in a military operation or in an embassy abroad,” said Tom Keane, Microsoft Azure’s head of Global Infrastructure. “Quite literally we’ve designed Azure Stack with the scenario of a submarine in mind,” Keane told Reuters.
The cloud computing market is forecast to grow to $74.7 billion in 2018, up nearly 36 percent from 2017, according to research firm Canalys. Amazon Web Services is the leader in the market with a 32% share while Microsoft is in second place with 14%, according to Canalys estimates for the Q4, 2017.
“In the public sector, AWS has taken an early lead with a prominent client base that includes the CIA, but Microsoft has been closing that gap as it builds out its Azure business and leverages its legacy relationships with government agencies,” analysts said. “AWS had a head start with some of their early investments in public cloud, but Microsoft has since made some aggressive investments and largely closed the gap with AWS,” said Rick Holgate, analyst with Gartner. “Microsoft also offers a more advanced and robust set of business productivity software than AWS.”
“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,” said Josh Stella, Chief Executive of Fugue, a start-up that makes automation software for the cloud that helps government clients keep their systems in compliance with regulations. “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,” she added.
The offering includes Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security features for US Government customers. This package is the latest addition to the Microsoft 365 family, which also includes versions for SMBs, enterprises, education, customer service workers, nonprofits and more. Microsoft plans to add Microsoft Teams support for these government cloud environments within the next few months.