In the face of unprecedented geopolitical competition and increasingly sophisticated and persistent cyber threats, the Department of Defense (DoD) is undertaking digital modernization to protect national security systems and warfighting platforms. By incorporating commercial technologies into operational systems and platforms, defense leaders can leverage data more effectively and achieve a higher level of sustained force readiness.

What has not changed is the need for precise mission planning, comprehensive personnel readiness, and the proper equipping of our warfighters to achieve mission outcomes and bring them home safely. This requires transforming data into actionable information, both at home and in-theater.

The DoD can improve the overall operational capabilities for its warfighters by adopting modern technology. They use a combination of cloud computing infrastructure, cyber security services, data analytics, and secure collaboration to provide enhanced support that aids in the execution of multi-domain operations from the cloud to the tactical edge.

A cloud-first strategy optimized for DoD

Microsoft takes seriously the privacy and security of everyone who uses our products, and that is reflected in our approach to providing Secret and Top Secret cloud services. Microsoft designed Azure for Government as a hybrid-first platform aligned with DoD networking and cybersecurity standards. Azure Government Secret is the first DoD-authorized Impact Level 6 cloud accessible directly through the DoD SIPRnet.

The U.S. military has an unparalleled global presence, with roughly 750 military bases scattered in 80 countries around the world. The geographic diversity of the immense DoD footprint means that not every operational force has equal access to hardware and bandwidth.

Where access is abundant, programs can run largely in the cloud in alignment with the DoD’s cloud-first strategy. When forces are forward-deployed in remote areas or in areas with less-developed infrastructure, they often must rely on local hybrid cloud tools. Microsoft’s Azure for Government Secret and Top Secret clouds provide hybrid cloud capability without the compromise of persistent connecting — arming warfighters with the resources they need to execute their missions and achieve operational success.

Full hybrid and edge portfolio for Secret cloud

With Microsoft Azure for Government, DoD forces can access hybrid and edge computing capabilities in the Secret and Top Secret clouds. After decades worth of lessons learned from building for the commercial industry, Microsoft Azure for Government is commercial grade but built to support the defense of our nation.

The DoD has access to best-of-breed infrastructure from Microsoft Azure datacenters located around the globe. Upon this foundation of geographically-dispersed data centers operated at the highest levels of DoD and US Government compliance, Microsoft has built a rich set of services to serve the core mission of the military community.

Office 365, which incorporates a unified identity and access management and cybersecurity tools from Azure, makes collaborating easier than ever. This can be through a Teams collaboration session between policymakers on Capitol Hill, co-authoring a presentation intended for the commander halfway around the world, or a chat session with civilian partners participating in a humanitarian assistance effort domestically.

Integration for more robust and secure data sharing

The amount of Secret and Top Secret data produced daily by the DoD is staggering, and storing it all was simply unimaginable not all that long ago. When that data is stored on isolated networks in far-flung locations with disparate security implementations and limited bandwidth, this creates barriers to information sharing and the production of actionable intelligence.

Microsoft Azure for Government enables users to move data between separate cloud fabrics by using logical rather than physical controls such as air-gapped and isolated networks. This approach helps users fuse data together more easily. Data can now be shared and integrated more quickly and securely than ever before.

The ability to move data between clouds is a direct result of Microsoft’s decades of building and fine-tuning commercial solutions that enable people to collaborate and share data. Building a custom solution for classified data runs the risk of quickly becoming outdated and emulating the same problems experienced with data management in the DoD today. Instead, we took our existing technological breakthroughs and coupled them with our deep understanding of how to support the far-ranging requirements of the DoD.

The result, Microsoft Azure for Government, opens datasets and promotes data integration unlike ever before. Data is now accessible to authorized users with native connections to classified networks or through private, resilient, high-bandwidth connectivity using ExpressRoute and ExpressRoute Direct.

Rich solutions, from within and outside of Microsoft, supported by optimized infrastructure

In an organization as vast, both demographically and geographically, as the DoD, it is no wonder that the number and range of technological solutions is just as diverse. When a unit comes to us and tells us they are using an application built on Linux with a JavaScript front end and running Cassandra as a data store, we can assure them that they can run that or virtually any other application stack on Microsoft Azure for Government.

Our commitment to open source software means that Microsoft works with our government partners every day to meet the specific needs of the DoD workforce, from the stateside clerks to soldiers in-theater. With Microsoft Azure for Government, DoD teams not only have access to Microsoft’s deep portfolio of solutions but also the best of tools from third-party vendors and the open-source community.

The majority of the solutions on the Azure Marketplace are from third-party vendors. Microsoft is proud to partner with DoD-focused system integrators and independent software vendors to ensure that those who do the difficult work of protecting our nation have the tools they need to do so safely, regardless of who wrote the code.

A focus on operational technology makes for better data and better missions at the edge

Teams at the tactical edge need powerful computing power and rich applications to accomplish their objectives and return home safely. By processing data close to the source, Microsoft Azure for Government addresses latency and connectivity issues and gives forward-deployed personnel access to actionable information. When feasible and practical, data is then transferred back to Azure to continue to improve the model.

Microsoft Azure for Government empowers tactical teams to achieve greater visibility, move faster, and make more informed decisions. By bringing intelligence to the edge, providing unified security to protect the nation’s most critical data, and delivering solutions for secure remote collaboration, Microsoft Azure for Government makes the DoD future-ready.

Do more for the mission with Azure. Visit Azure for U.S. Government.