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Microsoft Azure Creates Top Secret Government Cloud As JEDI Battle Rages On

Microsoft’s new Azure Government Top Secret cloud meets the Department of Defense $10 billion JEDI cloud contract requirement of commercial parity.

With the $10 billion Department of Defense JEDI cloud contract still in court, Microsoft launched a new cloud on Monday to serve government agencies with highly sensitive and classified data: the Azure Government Top Secret cloud.

Tom Keane, corporate vice president for Microsoft Azure Global, said Microsoft has completed the buildout of new Azure Government Top Secret regions targeting the government’s most sensitive and classified workloads. The news comes as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are tied up in a court battle regarding the U.S. Defense Department’s (DOD) estimated $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract.

The contract has been awarded to Microsoft on two occasions. In September, the DOD reaffirmed that Microsoft won the JEDI contract.

However, this month, the DOD said the JEDI contract requires commercial parity, which Microsoft said on Monday it is providing with Azure Government Top Secret.

“We are working with the US Government on accreditation,” said Keane in a blog post on Monday. “As part of our ongoing commitment to commercial parity driven by government mission requirements, Azure Government Top Secret regions are designed to provide the same capabilities as Azure (commercial), Azure Government, and Azure Government Secret, enabling a continuum of compute from mission cloud to tactical edge.”

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Keane said the broad range of services offered in Azure Government Top Secret regions will meet the demand for greater agility in the classified space, including the need to gain deeper insights from data sourced from any location as well as the need to enable the rapid expansion of remote work.

“Mission owners will benefit from greater choice in modernizing legacy systems, with a secure cloud platform that works on open standards and open frameworks with tools that work across a wide range of skill levels, from business analysts to developers to data scientists,” said Keane.

The contentious and ongoing litigation process surrounding the JEDI contract has been raging on for well over a year.

In late 2019, the DOD awarded the JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft, but AWS filed a suit challenging the award. AWS has argued that President Donald Trump’s political interference in the contact stemming from his antipathy toward Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has corrupted the selection process.

The military initiated its 120-day review period in March after a federal judge identified at least one shortcoming in the vendor evaluation process that delivered the lucrative JEDI contract to Microsoft over its rival. That process has been delayed.

In May, Microsoft urged Amazon to “stand down on its litigation” opposing the JEDI contract, arguing the ongoing legal and administrative challenges were keeping the best tools out of the hands of U.S. warfighters.

Contentious legal battles -- first between Oracle and AWS even before the JEDI contract was awarded, followed by AWS and Microsoft -- have drastically delayed the U.S. military’s ambitious and expensive plan to modernize IT resources across all branches of the armed forces.

Microsoft’s implementation of products and services for the JEDI contract still have to wait for an injunction imposed by a federal court in February to be lifted.

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