Microsoft turns up 2 new Azure Government Secret regions

Microsoft put two new Azure Government Secret data centers regions out for review by the U.S. government. (Microsoft)

In its ongoing battle with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to win the Pentagon's $10 billion cloud services contract, Microsoft announced the initial availability of two new data center regions.

The new Azure Government Secret regions, which are 500 miles apart in the U.S., are now in private preview and pending government accreditation, according to a blog post Lily Kim, general manager for Azure Global.

In her blog post, Kim hailed the two new Azure Government Secret data centers as "a significant milestone in serving our mission customers from cloud to edge." Once they receive accreditation, the Azure Government Secret data centers will be used for cloud services by the U.S. Federal Civilian, Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community (IC) and U.S. government partners working within Secret enclaves. 

According to Seeking Alpha, AWS is the only company to date that has been cleared to host the CIA and Department of Defense's secret and top secret classified data.

The Pentagon is planning to move all of its data to a highly secured cloud as part of its Star Wars' themed JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) project.

RELATED: Microsoft, Amazon still in the running for Pentagon's $10B JEDI contract

Earlier this month, the Department of Defense said that frontrunners Microsoft and Amazon Web Services were still in the running for the JEDI contract while Oracle, which filed a lawsuit in regards to the process, and IBM were out. The Pentagon said that both Oracle and IBM didn't meet the "minimum requirements" for JEDI

JEDI contract timeline

The Pentagon put out an RFP for one vendor to manage its cloud needs, which includes a primary data repository for the military services worldwide.The Pentagon had previously said it would announce the sole winner of the JEDI contract this month, but that announcement has been pushed back to mid-July, according to a Defense Department spokeswoman.

The selection process was slowed after investigations and a legal battle. The Pentagon looked at potential ethical violations by a former AWS employee who had worked on JEDI during a stint at the Defense Department, according to a New York Times story. Those potential violations were referred to Office of Inspector General for further investigation. The Pentagon spokeswoman said that employee had “no adverse impact on the integrity of the acquisition process.” 

In December, Oracle filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that alleged there were conflicts of interest and unfair requirements in the contract process.

That lawsuit came on the heels of companies, including Oracle, lobbying the Defense Department to split the contract among several cloud providers instead of awarding it to just one. The Defense Department said splitting up the contract would slow down the process and cause a delay in providing the new capabilities to the military branches.

Earlier this week, Court of Federal Claims Judge Eric Bruggink lifted a stay on the Oracle lawsuit against the procurement and approved a new timeline for the matter, including a new date for oral arguments, according to a story yesterday by Washington Technology.

Oracle and the DoD are scheduled to present arguments during the week of July 8, and the DoD will not award the JEDI contract before July 19, according to Washington Technology.