Microsoft Beefs Up Data Protection for Government Cloud Customers

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2016-02-05 Print this article Print
Microsoft, government cloud

Showing its growing confidence in handling high-security cloud workloads, Microsoft makes Azure Backup and Site Recovery features available to government customers.

Microsoft this week announced new cloud-based data protection capabilities for U.S. government agencies that adhere to tough security and data privacy standards.

Now, Azure Government customers can back up their Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) virtual machines (VMs) using Azure Backup. "Azure IaaS VM backup provides application-consistent backups, with zero ongoing maintenance and infrastructure deployment for backup. Azure Backup transfers snapshots taken on an IaaS VM to a secure, reliable Azure Backup vault and can restore the VM in a single click," blogged Giridhar Mosay, a program manager in Microsoft's Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise division.

"Protection of Azure IaaS VMs will help [a] number of government customers in state and local, federal civilian and defense, plus over a hundred solution partners with dedicated government practices, to leverage the cloud for critical business needs by backing up their assets on cloud," said Mosay.

In addition, the company has activated Azure Backup Server, enabling government customers to back up their Microsoft environments, including Windows clients, SQL Server, SharePoint Server, Exchange and Hyper-V virtual machines.

"Customers with tier 1 workloads like Microsoft SQL Server can benefit from Microsoft Azure Backup Server by choosing disk backups for better RPOs [recovery point objectives] and RTOs [recovery time objectives]," said Mosay. "They can continue to back up to Azure for long-term retention using disk-disk-cloud backup strategy."

Separately, Microsoft announced that its cloud-based disaster recovery and workload migration offering, Azure Site Recovery, is available in Azure Government Cloud. Once again, the focus is on security.

"The addition of Site Recovery as part of our Azure Backup and disaster recovery features help meet a government agency's security rigor and requirements, as well as help meet your hybrid cloud objectives. More updates will become available in the near future as we enable physical Linux and VMware Linux VM replication scenarios to Azure Storage and/or a secondary data center," stated Microsoft in a Feb. 3 announcement.

Using Azure Site Recovery, data is encrypted both in transit and at rest, Microsoft Program Manager Ashish Gangwar said in a statement. Even staffers go under scrutiny, he added. "Azure Site Recovery operations and support as part of Azure Government cloud are performed by background screened U.S. citizen personnel."

For U.S. government agencies with resource-intensive workloads, Microsoft has added a new, flash-enabled Azure VM tier.

"There is now expanded support for United States government agencies with a new series of virtual machine (VM) sizes for Azure Virtual Machines and Web/worker roles. The D-Series sizes offer up to 112GB in memory with compute processors that are approximately 60 percent faster than our A-Series VM sizes," announced the company on Feb. 3. D-Series VMs are backed by up to 800GB of local solid-state drive (SSD) storage. Available also in the Cloud Services cloud-application delivery offering, D-Series VMs "offer an optimal configuration for running workloads that require increased processing power and fast local disk input/output," said Microsoft.


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