In advance of the submission deadline for one of the largest federal cloud contracts issued in the last few years, Microsoft is ramping up its government offerings and rounding out its high-level security authorizations.

Microsoft announced Oct. 9 the expansion of its government cloud authorization coverage to include 50 total services, as well as company plans to increase the impact level of those services by the end of 2018.

“Moving forward, we are simplifying our approach to regulatory compliance for federal agencies, so that our government customers can gain access to innovation more rapidly,” Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, wrote in a blog post on the changes.

“In addition, we are adding new options for buying and onboarding cloud services to make it easier to move to the cloud. Finally, we are bringing an array of new hybrid and edge capabilities to government to ensure that government customers have full access to the technology of the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud era.”

Microsoft now offers 50 services across its U.S. regions that are authorized at the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program’s Moderate level, meaning that a loss of confidentiality, integrity and availability on those systems would result in “serious adverse effects on an agency’s operations, assets or individuals.”

Microsoft announced that all 50 services would be authorized at a FedRAMP High level, where loss of such systems could have “severe or catastrophic adverse effect,” by the end of the calendar year.

In addition, Microsoft’s Azure Government Secret regions, designed for secret or classified government data, will be available by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Microsoft also announced public cloud-based partnerships and collaborations with SAP, L3, Booz Allen Hamilton and General Dynamics Information Technology.

The announcement comes on the same week as the request for proposal response deadline for the Department of Defense’s potentially $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract.

The JEDI contract is single-source, making it probable that only some of the nation’s largest cloud providers — such as Microsoft — will be capable of delivering the entirety of the contract.

The contract has already received protests over its likelihood of awarding a large chunk of the defense cloud market to a single provider.

The pool of potential cloud providers narrowed Monday, as Bloomberg reported that Google had decided to not to compete on the JEDI contract, as it may conflict with “corporate values.”

This is not the first time Google has stepped back from a military contract as a result of company values. Google decided not to renew its work for Project Maven — which uses machine learning to analyze drone footage — after over 3,000 employees signed an open letter opposing building what they called “warfare technology.”

Microsoft now joins Amazon Web Services as one of the few vendors capable of hosting the secret and top secret data required by the contract.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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