Pretty much all of Corporate America has at least heard of Azure, and for the most part is using the wide myriad of services that are available to it.  But, as one of our last articles pointed out, Microsoft has some Cloud platforms to serve the Federal Government specifically, which is known as GCC High.

While Azure has made a huge footing in the commercial sector with regards to its data centers, it also has made more progress in this area with regards to the Federal Government as well.

The Microsoft Government Azure Data Center

Although the specific details of these data centers remain highly confidential, Microsoft has announced that it has built at least two top secret data centers that are designed to store, process, and archive some of the Federal Government’s most sensitive information and related datasets.

Both of these data centers are some 500 miles apart from each other, in order to provide a physical backup to each other, as well as to maintain a strong sense of Cyber resiliency.

The one item that was revealed was that the actual, physical infrastructure of the data centers dedicated to the Federal Government is almost the same as that for that as the commercial data centers, which are scattered throughout the world.

One of the primary differences is that extra security protocols have been put into place in order to meet the rigorous standards that have been set forth by the following:

  • The DoD Impact Level 6 (also known as “IL6”);
  • The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Intelligence Community Directive (also known “ICD 503”).

Also, these highly classified data centers have been designed to handle the DoD Impact Level 5 (IL5) information and datasets as well.  They have also been created to serve the needs of the following end user groups:

  • The US Federal Civilians who have top secret clearance through the DoD;
  • The direct employees of the DoD;
  • Other contractors and subcontractors that have top secret clearance as well, even independent from the CMMC.

In fact, the foundation for all of this has been termed the “Azure Government Secret”.  New services are also going to be offered for the above-mentioned end user groups, which include the following:

  • A brand new and robust set of development tools for software programmers;
  • The Azure Kubernetes Service (also known as “AKS”);
  • The Azure Container Services;
  • Upgraded versions of both Azure Sentinel and the Azure Security Center;
  • The deployment of Azure Monitor, that can help individuals as well as organizations to collect, view, process, and even store telemetry-based data in a secure repository. It is important to note that this includes those data sets that are already in the Microsoft GCC and On Premises;
  • Availability Zones: This feature provides redundancy so that if one component of the data center fails, you will be automatically rolled over to the backup component in the second data center;
  • A much more robust version of the Windows Virtual Desktop (also known as the “WVD”): This is actually FedRAMP certified and is designed for the Remote Workforce to securely access shared resources.  Also, the Zero Trust Framework is implemented into this as well, which means that at least three or more unique authentication mechanisms are used to fully confirm the identity of the individual in question;
  • The Azure Modular Datacenter: This is a special kind of service that is meant to bring the IT infrastructure into the battlefield, in a safe and secure fashion.  It has been specially designed to work under the following, extreme conditions:
    • Where internet connections keep dropping and are in secure;
    • The ability to interact with the IT/Network infrastructure in geographic territories of any allies, and also ensuring that all lines of network communications (as well as the endpoints) are fully encrypted.

      It is also important to note that it can run smoothly as well in a completely “disconnected mode” and can switch to other configurations quickly and efficiently.

Conclusions

Overall, this article has provided an overview into the Microsoft Azure Datacenters that are designed specifically for the Federal Government, and some of the newer and upgraded functionalities that are coming out in them.  However, there are some salient differences that exist from with the Cloud Platforms that reside from within them, and this is illustrated below:

If you have any more questions about this, contact us today!

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