Microsoft lands clearance to sell cloud products across the intelligence community

Microsoft and partner Dell have booked a six-year cloud computing deal to sell Microsoft products to the U.S. intelligence community.

Microsoft said Tuesday it has booked a six-year cloud computing agreement with the intelligence community worth “potentially hundreds of millions of dollars” to use the software giant’s products across the 17 intelligence agencies and other components.

Intelligence agencies now have access to nearly the entire Microsoft cloud portfolio that includes Azure Government and Office 365 for US Government, as well as Windows 10. Agencies can buy the products through a joint enterprise licensing agreement awarded to Dell, Microsoft said.

Early last year, Microsoft gained approval to store the Defense Department’s most sensitive controlled unclassified information in the Azure Government cloud.

That approval came in January of 2017 and nine months later Microsoft was cleared to host classified data in the Azure Government Secret cloud for the military services, plus defense and intelligence agencies. 

"This (IC) agreement reinforces the fact that the federal government can put their trust in the Microsoft Cloud for Government. If the intelligence community can trust us, the Department of Defense should feel confident that they can too," said Dana Barnes, vice president of Microsoft's national security group. "Microsoft has a longstanding 30-year partnership with the DOD."

The IC pact extends Microsoft’s footprint in the national security community just as DOD advances closer to a final request for proposals on the potential 10-year, $10 billion contract known as “JEDI” that has been the subject of much conjecture and controversy over the past year.

Market analysts and observers view Amazon Web Services as the frontrunner for the contract over Microsoft and other commercial IT giants like Dell, IBM, Oracle and even Google.

AWS won a $600 million contract to host the CIA’s data in a cloud environment nearly five years ago. Earlier this month, the Army issued a task order against that so-called “C2S” contract that indicates the CIA cloud is expanding to Army intelligence operations.

In March, Microsoft announced it is working on a pair of Azure Government Secret regions to expand support across a broad spectrum of data classifications. The company at the time said those regions are "coming soon" and would bring its total number of dedicated government regions to eight.

Those regions are still in the works, Barnes said.

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