As we approach the end of one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to take stock of how the challenges faced by governments, businesses and individuals have tested us collectively, and how we have responded. While this pandemic has taught us that no one is 100 percent resilient, government agencies focused on the notion of mission resiliency, including agile infrastructure, ongoing digital transformation and topline security, have proven more capable of quickly pivoting and adapting in the face of a crisis. We saw government customers embracing innovation at an accelerated rate and expect this to continue – as leaders shift their mindsets and operations to be more agile, anticipating the needs of citizens and government workers.
This pandemic has been tragic and devastating to so many citizens, across the U.S. and globally. As a result of the increasing reliance on technology to support remote “everything,” this period has demonstrated the most accelerated shift to digital transformation in decades. At our third annual Government Leaders Summit, Microsoft’s premier event for U.S. federal government officials, we showcased examples of government customers who have reimagined new ways of working, as they navigate the changing landscape. These stories include:
Digital transformation at the Department of Veterans Affairs – Our teams helped the VA deploy AI-based chatbots, so veterans have 24/7 access to COVID-19 testing, scheduling telehealth visits, refilling prescriptions and even assistance payments. We also helped the VA implement cloud-based dashboards, powered by Microsoft’s Power BI, Bing Maps Platform and Azure App Service to help the agency have near real-time information on bed utilization and even open access to civilians as local hospitals reached capacity with COVID-19 patients.
Rapid shift to remote work for the Department of Defense – In less than a month, the DOD and Microsoft created a Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) work environment built on Azure Government, Microsoft 365 Government and Microsoft Teams. CVR delivers secure chat, meetings, calls, collaboration and other telework functionality for 3.2 million DOD employees to ensure seamless continuity of operations.
Implementing zero-trust solutions at the Small Business Administration –To help securely manage the nearly 20,000 newly remote workers, the SBA leveraged Microsoft’s cloud security capabilities to enable dynamic security access controls based off of user risk scores, location, user behavior, device, identity and other data. This zero trust-like approach, developed under challenging circumstances, allowed the SBA to operate and meet critical needs like distributing pandemic-related funding while ensuring security and trust in its systems.
Facilitating mission resiliency for government
Microsoft is committed to helping agencies adapt to new ways of work and serve the public and facilitating the goals of mission resiliency. As part of this effort, today we announced a number of advances to our government cloud offerings, including:
Delivering enhanced capabilities for Azure Government – We offer broadest range of commercial innovation for mission at all data classifications, and today my colleague Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Azure engineering, shared an update on new capabilities. We’ve recently completed the buildout of our Azure Government Top Secret regions and we’re working with the U.S. government on accreditation. We’re also expanding the rugged edge portfolio to bring cloud intelligence and compute anywhere you need. And to further mission resiliency, we are offering two additional modules for the Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC): Network High Availability module and the High Availability power module, both add-on feature options for the MDC.
Microsoft 365 Government committed to support U.S. government data requirements – As part of our commitment to supporting federal government agencies, the defense industrial base, and the DOD, we are committed to delivery of Microsoft 365 Government to support U.S. secret and top-secret data. We’ll have more details to share in the new year.
Dynamics 365 and Power Platform update – To support the DOD’s goals of moving mission-critical applications to the cloud, Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform have received an IL4 Provisional Authority. This is an important step in our ability to serve defense agencies as it allows them to transfer previously supported datacenters to Microsoft’s managed cloud.
Re-imagining the future together
We’re incredibly excited about this progress and our continued partnership to provide the federal government with the platform it needs to deliver on its diverse and complex missions, whether it’s a rapid shift to remote work or supporting COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Agencies operating with the necessary courage, culture and capabilities have been able to accelerate in the face of adversity. At Microsoft, we are committed to supporting our government customers with trusted technology solutions and people-centric partnerships, which help advance continuity of services and the highest mission resiliency as we build into the future together. For more details about our work, please visit the Microsoft Government page here.