Microsoft Addresses Governments' Concerns Over Cloud OS Network

The company explains how its global hybrid cloud platform also respects national borders as it courts government customers.

Microsoft is assuring the world's governments that in a world rocked by a National Security Agency surveillance controversy, its new Cloud OS Network can keep their data not only safe, but also out of the hands of foreign concerns.

In December, Microsoft unveiled its global Cloud OS Network, a partnership between the company and cloud providers situated in several countries. During its debut, Microsoft described the Cloud OS Network as "a worldwide consortium of more than 25 cloud service providers delivering services built on the Microsoft Cloud Platform: Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack."

Cloud OS Network will span 90 markets, run out of 425 data centers and is expected to serve more than 3 million customers. More than 2.4 million servers will power the Cloud OS Network.

Before trusting a cloud computing platform that operates on such a scale, government customers are understandably concerned about the security of their data and the chances of it being accessed by unauthorized persons beyond its borders, suggested Dan Mannion, director of Public Sector Cloud Strategy for Microsoft. "In my travels since the announcement, I've heard a lot of questions from leaders about the Cloud OS Network and why it should matter to them," he wrote in a Feb. 5 company blog post.

Specifically, Mannion faced questions about how Cloud OS Network would handle security. He explained that six of the inaugural Cloud OS Network partners are setting up national clouds, noting that "government specialists from more countries will be signing up."

"These providers address unique government data security, privacy, and sovereignty concerns by developing solutions that can be certified to specific in-country requirements," Mannion added. "And with local datacenters, their solutions will help you keep your data within your own borders."

Providers offering specialized government solutions, noted Mannion, include Capita IT Services and Outsourcery in the U.K.; Revera in New Zealand; SingTel in Singapore; Tieto serving Finland, Norway and Sweden; and VTC Digilink in Vietnam.

Microsoft selected these providers due, in large part, to their familiarity and experience in cloud security. "Many members of the Cloud OS Network have worked with Microsoft cloud services for a decade or more," said Mannion. "Not only do they have the in-house skills and experience to deliver the most efficient, scalable, and secure cloud solutions to governments, but they're also backed by Microsoft's cloud expertise."

The assurances echo statements by Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, who in the wake of the NSA spying scandal, said last month that non-U.S. users of Microsoft's cloud services will be able to keep their data closer to home. "Microsoft Corp. will allow overseas customers to have their personal data stored outside the U.S., a response to concerns about allegations of U.S. government spying," reported Bloomberg on Jan. 23.

Microsoft vowed to combat cyber-spying in December, after a clearer picture of the NSA's far-reaching (and deep-digging) capabilities emerged from classified documents provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In a statement, Smith said that "government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber-attacks."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...