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Microsoft launches Azure Government Top Secret cloud

Microsoft's Azure Government Top Secret offers more than 60 cloud services to U.S. spy agencies, the Department of Defense and federal civilian organizations.

Microsoft has launched Azure Government Top Secret, a collection of cloud services developed for the U.S. intelligence community.

Microsoft made the product generally available last week with more than 60 cloud services for U.S. spy agencies, the Department of Defense and federal civilian organizations. The services and facilities that deliver them are compliant with standards set by Intelligence Community Directive 503 and 705.

Microsoft offers data analysis and AI services to government agencies through Azure's Data Lake, Cosmos DB, HDInsight and Cognitive Services. It also provides the Kubernetes Service, Functions and App Service for containerized applications, serverless workloads and web apps.

Microsoft also offers Azure Government Secret, a collection of more than 70 cloud services that meet less restrictive security standards. Microsoft launched the fortified cloud for secret-level classified information in 2017.

Microsoft's Azure Government Top Secret launch comes a month after it filed an official protest over the National Security Agency (NSA) awarding a $10 billion cloud contract to AWS. The objection filed with the Government Accountability Office claims the NSA failed to conduct a "proper evaluation" of the AWS deal.

The GAO expects to release an opinion on Microsoft's protest in October.

"We are exercising our legal rights and will do so carefully and responsibly," Microsoft said in a statement.

Also, in July, the Defense Department decided to shelve a 10-year, $10 billion cloud contract with Microsoft that sparked a legal challenge by AWS. The Defense Department, which includes the NSA, decided to replace the Microsoft contract with one that seeks multiple suppliers.

Last year, Microsoft launched Azure Space to compete in the space segment of the infrastructure-as-a-service market. The company has partnered with Elon Musk's SpaceX to jointly develop connections between SpaceX's satellite-delivered Starlink broadband and Microsoft's Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC).

MDC comprises server racks, networking and security in a climate-controlled shipping container. Microsoft has designed the product to extend the network edge to remote locations.

Antone Gonsalves is the news director for the Networking Media Group. He has deep and wide experience in tech journalism. Since the mid-1990s, he has worked for UBM's InformationWeek, TechWeb and Computer Reseller News. He has also written for Ziff Davis' PC Week, IDG's CSOonline and IBTMedia's CruxialCIO, and rounded all of that out by covering startups for Bloomberg News. He started his journalism career at United Press International, working as a reporter and editor in California, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

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