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Microsoft Reveals New Azure Government Secret Data Centers

‘These new regions operated by cleared US citizens are built for IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and Marketplace solutions, bringing the strength of commercial innovation to the classified space,’ says Lily Kim, general manager, Azure Global.

Microsoft has built two new Azure Government Secret data centers created specifically for classified government data and analysts as the company battles for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract against rival Amazon.

“We’re announcing a significant milestone in serving our mission customers from cloud to edge with the initial availability of two new Azure Government Secret regions, now in private preview and pending accreditation,” said Lily Kim, general manager, Azure Global in a blog post. “These new regions operated by cleared US citizens are built for IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and Marketplace solutions, bringing the strength of commercial innovation to the classified space.”

Microsoft’s new data centers are operational but are still waiting for security accreditation from the U.S. Defense Department before military or intelligence agencies can move secret classified data and workloads to the facilities. The locations of these centers are not being disclosed other than the facilitates will be located 500 miles apart from each other.

[Related: Data Center Spending To Decline In 2019: 5 Reasons Behind The Fall]

The new Azure Government Secret data centers enables cloud services to the Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community, U.S. Federal Civilian and U.S. government partners working within secrete enclaves, according to Microsoft. The facilities are built with additional controls to support and secure government agencies with classified workloads as well as meeting stringent regulatory and compliance requirements.

“For more than 40 years we have prioritized bringing commercial innovation to the DoD,” said Kim. “We also continue to help our customers across the full spectrum of government, including every state, federal cabinet agency, and military branch, modernize their IT to better enable their missions.”

The news comes as Microsoft and AWS -- the two largest enterprise cloud providers in the world -- compete for the gigantic $10 billion JEDI contract. The U.S. military is embarking on an ambitious and expensive cloud transformation project to modernize IT resources across all the Pentagon's departments and branches of the armed services.

Microsoft and AWS are the final bidders remaining that met the military’s requirements for the highly sought-after government JEDI contract.

The final decision could be made as early as this month, but might be delayed until July as the Defense Department assesses the capabilities of both companies.

Microsoft said it has expanded the scope of all Azure Government data center regions to enable DoD Impact Level 5 (IL5) data, providing a cost-effective option for L5 workloads with a broad range of available services. IL5 is a provisional authorization from the Defense Department needed in order to host, process and run analytics on the Pentagon’s sensitive data.

“With our focus on innovating to meet the needs of our mission-critical customers, we continue to provide more PaaS features and services to the DoD at IL5 than any other cloud provider,” said Kim.

Microsoft said it supports nearly 10 million U.S. government cloud professionals across more than 7,000 government agencies.

Amazon and Microsoft are two of the largest spenders on building new and expanding on data centers across the globe. In 2018, hyper-scale cloud and data center operators spent nearly $120 billion, representing a 43 percent spike, toward building, expanding and equipping huge data centers. In the fourth quarter of 2019 alone, largest hyper-scale operators – led by Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft – spent $32 billion.

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