In a blow to Amazon, Microsoft finally authorized to handle “Secret” Pentagon data

by Surur
December 16, 2019
Azure top secret certification

One of the key reasons Amazon has insisted the Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI contract was wrongly assigned to Microsoft was that they had many more certifications needed for government work, with Amazon saying they were “uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the US military needs.”

Microsoft on the other hand merely said they would get the necessary certifications eventually, and today BizJournal reports that Microsoft has achieved a key certification so far only matched by Amazon.

Today the Defense Information Systems Agency officials confirmed that Microsoft Corp.’s Azure cloud had obtained a temporary authority to operate some key offerings at Impact Level 6 (IL6), the security requirement for handling the “Secret” level of classified material on the cloud.

Impact Level 6 (IL6) is just below the highest level of “Top Secret” for classified material and is the minimum level of security authorization required to implement the Pentagon’s JEDI contract.

The certification will allow Microsoft to pilot projects and develop and test “policies, processes and procedures” to provide “infrastructure-as-a-service”  ( provide and operate servers, storage and security services in the cloud) before the Pentagon will consider issuing a longer authority.

The current Microsoft Azure Secret certification provisional authorization will otherwise expire in 3 months.

“The Microsoft Azure IL6 offering provides classified processing capabilities up to the Secret level for DOD and Federal users,” DISA officials said in an email to the WBJ. “This represents a first for Microsoft in making their IaaS available to DOD communities for impact level 6 data.”

Despite Microsoft’s success and reports that they have started hiring staff for the JEDI project, Amazon is still trying to overturn the assignment and has asked the court to halt the implementation of the contract, claiming President Trump had a personal bias against the company and inappropriately influenced the tendering of the contract.  The DOD has agreed not to commence any work on the JEDI contract, “beyond initial preparatory activities,” until at least Feb. 11.

Currently, Amazon is still the only commercial cloud company with “Top Secret” certification, though Microsoft is required to achieve permanent “Secret-“level authorization in 6 months and “Top Secret-” level in 9 months.

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