Microsoft Expands Azure Government Cloud Services Slate

A few months after kicking off its government cloud offering, Microsoft adds new media services, Oracle virtual machine images and new regional virtual network options.

Azure Cloud

A few months after kicking off its government cloud offering, Microsoft adds new media services, Oracle virtual machine images and new regional virtual network options.

Microsoft's government customers can now stream media, fire up Oracle databases and set up regional virtual networks on Azure.

The Redmond, Wash.-based technology company launched Azure Government Cloud in the U.S. during December's Government Cloud Summit in Washington, D.C. "The Microsoft Cloud for Government is the most complete cloud for any government organization aiming to be more productive, agile and efficient in today's mobile-first and cloud-first world," Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said in a statement at the time.

Now government agencies can add video streaming services to the Azure cloud capabilities at their disposal.

"Azure Media Services allows customers to deliver any media, on virtually any device, anywhere," Sam Chan, a Microsoft Azure Engineering program manager, said in a statement. Available features include live and on-demand video streaming, on-demand encoding via Azure Media Encoder, premium encoding with closed captioning support, content indexing and content protection.

Microsoft also wants to help government agencies and departments transition their Oracle workloads to the cloud. "We continue to work with partners to bring you as many pre-configured virtual machines as possible," said Chan. According to Microsoft, the new Oracle-based Azure Government Image Library items include:

  • Java Development Kit (JDK) 6\7\8;
  • Oracle WebLogic 11g\12c Standard & Enterprise (Windows);
  • Oracle Database 11g\12c Standard & Enterprise (Windows);
  • Oracle Database 12 Standard & Enterprise (Linux); and
  • Oracle WebLogic 12 Server (Linux).

Also new is Regional Virtual Networks (VNets) support, which enables organizations to configure their Azure-backed VNets for an entire region. "Previously, VNets were limited to one scale unit within the region's data center," Chan explained. Customers can now reserve IPs or IP blocks and assign public IPs to virtual machines (VM). The service also features internal load balancing and supports multiple virtual network interfaces on a single VM.

The addition of Azure Traffic Manager provides customers with three load balancing options, Failover, Performance or Round Robin. "This strengthens the deployment of Web applications and services in Azure Government, as well as helps distribute traffic across multiple locations and handle failover from on premises applications," Chan said.

Azure Service Bus enables communications between applications and services. "Message-oriented applications provide resilient, scalable architectures, as well as help integration between applications and business partners. Service Bus can also assist when developing loosely-coupled solutions that can take advantage of the elastic nature of Azure," Chan stated.

Finally, Microsoft floated a preview of the Azure Files service, which "allows virtual machines to mount a shared file system with the SMB [Server Message Block] protocol. This is useful in architectures where there is a need to share persistent data on a VHD volume across different virtual machines (or Cloud Services roles)," he said.

Microsoft may have some convincing to do, however. Despite the growing number of cloud solutions available to government entities, a recent survey from NetApp MeriTalk reveals that the U.S. federal government is dragging its feet in the race to the cloud. Facing a goal of moving 43 percent of all federal infrastructure services to the cloud by the end of 2015, the Feb. 27 survey revealed that, so far, just 23 percent are in the process of being migrated or have already made the switch.

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...