With the momentum of a few key new features, Microsoft’s Azure government cloud is a step closer to becoming a reality.
In a blog post Wednesday, the company announced updates to its current cloud services that will soon be offered in a version tailored specifically for government use.
“Microsoft is focused on providing our government customers with the cloud services that help them better meet their mission,” Curt Kolchun, Microsoft’s vice president for the U.S. public sector, wrote in the post. “Today, we are announcing additional updates that make Microsoft’s cloud – which spans infrastructure, data, productivity, mobility and more – the most comprehensive, end-to-end cloud solution for government customers.”
The newest update to the yet-to-be-fully-released cloud option contains the company’s Dynamics CRM Online, a customer relationship management tool that can provide social insights, business intelligence and campaign management in or out of the cloud.
The government version of Dynamics CRM Online is built on the same infrastructure as the public tool, but it will exist separately from the publicly-available version. The CRM tool joins the Azure cloud structure and the existing Office 365 platform, which already has more than 2,200 government users, in providing government cloud services.
Although the full government cloud platform is not yet available, Kolchun said a 2015 rollout is planned. Microsoft has been offering a limited private preview to some agencies after its public announcement at the company’s Federal Forum earlier in the year. Soon it will expand the offering to more entities to test more solutions and workloads and is looking for government solution partners who are interested in participating in the preview.
“Already, customers such as Illinois Department of Corrections and partners like Schneider Electric and InfoReliance are taking advantage of the Azure preview,” Kolchun said in the post. “Illinois DOC will be using Azure government cloud storage as part of its offender management system, built with Microsoft technology.”
According to Kolchun, Illinois DOC Chief Information Officer Steve Matthews sees Microsoft’s secure government cloud as an essential part of an integrated justice system.
“Customers and partners are finding that the Azure government cloud provides a unique platform that enables them to serve as strategic cloud brokers with finished services like Azure Active Directory, providing multi-factor authentication and data protection services plus single sign-on to more than 2,000 popular cloud applications,” Kolchun wrote. “Cloud infrastructure is key, but it is the finished services such as Azure Active Directory data, mobility and productivity alignment that will continue to set Microsoft’s cloud vision apart.”
The push to release the final version of Microsoft’s government cloud offering comes as the General Services Administration is seeking to add a “cloud” option to Schedule 70, the most widely used acquisition vehicle among agencies.
Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference will take place July 13 through July 17 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.