Microsoft Azure Government has gone into general availability, giving Microsoft (MSFT) another feather in its cap as it vies for a leadership spot in the growing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market.

Tom Keane, partner director for program management for Microsoft Azure, wrote in a blog post that since Microsoft Azure Government went into preview in March 2014, more than 100 government customers and solution providers have tested and evaluated the cloud service offering. And now it's ready to go out to the masses of government agencies and departments, which Azure partners are no doubt hoping will put the government-focused cloud service on at least an even keel with Amazon Web Services' and others' own government clouds.

Of course, with Azure Government, Microsoft is not just focused on IaaS, but also on shifting additional government organizations over to its Office 365 cloud-based office productivity suite.

"Another benefit of Azure Government is that applications created for Azure work natively on Azure Government," Keane wrote. "Azure Government includes a broad spectrum of Azure services, including IaaS, PaaS, Storage, VNETs, Azure Active Directory and SQL DB. As new features and compliance standards are added to Azure Government, we will continue to communicate them from this blog."

Keane also described a few of the usage scenarios currently being employed in Azure Government's more than 100 customers. They include:

  • Audio and video surveillance. According to Keane, Azure Government provides the capabilities and infrastructure needed to operate a cloud-based video platform for live events and video on-demand, including streaming coupled with real-time alerts and monitoring for public safety and law enforcement agencies.
  • Big data and analytics. Keane noted that some of the storage services public sector organizations are using include logging, archiving and data storage, as well as elastic analysis of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data. Azure Government was designed to provide those customers with cost-effective data storage with built-in redundancy capabilities that replicate between two data centers.
  • Private network connections to Azure Government. Currently in preview, this capability enables government organizations to create secure virtual and private connections between Azure Government and on-premise infrastructure.
  • Development and test. For development and test teams, Azure Government enables development and testing of applications while also providing cost and time savings. Keane noted it also eliminates the need for purchasing and supporting more costly hardware and configuration.

"Specifically for government, Azure Active Directory for Government offers a physical and logically isolated namespace partition, allowing the identities of users to be stored at rest in Microsoft Azure Government. At the same time, identities can be used to authenticate with on-premises solutions, as well as single sign-on to Microsoft cloud offerings," Keane wrote.