The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Microsoft a five-year contract worth $937 million for technical support and consulting service, the Pentagon announced on Dec. 20.
Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will provide the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) with Microsoft Enterprise Technical Support Services from so-called “Blue Badges,” which are staff members on the company’s payroll rather than contract workers.
Contrary to what the DoD’s bulletin originally indicated, Microsoft won’t give the Defense Department access to its proprietary source code.
“The Department of Defense does not, and will not, have access to Microsoft’s proprietary source codes,” said a DoD spokesperson in a statement sent to eWEEK on Dec. 22. “The METSS-II contract is a sole-source follow-on contract to continue and leverage Microsoft support services.”
“The core requirements are for the contractor to provide Microsoft consulting services that include software developers and product teams to leverage a variety of proprietary resources and source code, and Microsoft premier support services such as tools and knowledge bases, problem resolution assistance from product developers, and access to Microsoft source code when applicable to support Department of Defense’s mission.”
Microsoft will be required to provide these services in the continental U.S., but provisions exist for the Redmond, Wash. to assist overseas as required.
Surprising no one, the DoD isn’t sharing the particulars about the kind of projects Microsoft will work on under the contract. Nonetheless, Microsoft’s recent focus on high-security, government-grade cloud services offers some clues as to what the Pentagon is seeking from the “cloud-first” company.
In October, the company drew up blueprints enabling Azure Government customers to quickly deploy cloud services that adhere to the federal government’s strict data security standards.
By supplying FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) Moderate baseline Customer Responsibility Matrix and System Security Plan template, the company is making it easier for U.S. government agencies to roll out what are supposed to be secure, hacker-resistant software services. Azure Government data centers are protected by multiple layers of both physical and software security and are also physically isolated from Microsoft’s public and commercial cloud.
In October, the company announced that two new cloud regions in Arizona and Texas would join the Azure Government cloud’s existing data centers in Virginia and Iowa, providing government agencies in the Southwest and South Central areas of the U.S. with fast, lower-latency cloud connectivity. Microsoft operates Azure Government from a total of six dedicated regions.
The company also announced a Department of Defense-specific version of Office 365, delivering secure access to Office software for DoD personnel and military branches. “Combined with dedicated Government ExpressRoute options, Microsoft offers government agencies broad choice of where they host their data and where they connect directly to Microsoft’s infrastructure,” said Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, in an Oct. 18 statement.
ExpressRoute is a cloud-connectivity solution offered by Microsoft and its data center operator and network services provider partners that bypasses the public internet. It offers customers direct, private and secure access to Azure, which bypasses the public internet and thereby makes it difficult for hackers to snoop on data as it makes its way to and from Microsoft’s cloud.