Choosing the right Azure Environment – Should I use the Public or the Government Cloud?

One of the first things I discuss with new government customers is where they want to deploy – Azure Commercial (aka the public cloud) or Azure Government.  Many organizations feel that they should “obviously” be in the government cloud because they are either part of the state, local, or federal government or work closely with those groups.

The fact is Azure Government exists to meet a specific set of guidelines that government agencies often (but not always) must follow (FEDRAMP, DISA IL4, ITAR, etc.).  Each organization needs to understand what attestations/certifications/regulations matter to them and chose the LEAST RESTRICTIVE cloud environment that meets those stipulations.

The truth is most “government” organizations in the United States use Azure [commercial] either exclusively or for at least some of their cloud space.

When making your decision:

  1. Take time to see which environments meet your needs.  Many people are surprised at how robust the Azure [commercial] compliance space is.  https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/trustcenter/compliance/complianceofferings
  2. Take our 1.5hr FREE online class that goes into greater detail on what Azure Government is and is not.  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/modules/intro-to-azure-government/
  3. Take a look at the list of services you need versus those available at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/global-infrastructure/services/
  4. Take a look at the table below for the quick and dirty overview of both environments.
Comparison Point Microsoft Azure Commercial (MAC) Microsoft Azure Government (MAG)
Operational staff Microsoft screening Screened US citizens
Physical security Biometrics, isolation, fencing, etc. Same as MAC
Scope of offering All Azure features Features limited by certification
Portal (ARM) https://portal.azure.com https://portal.azure.us
Pricing concerns Base pricing, minus EA/commitment discount (if any) Base pricing, plus MAG premium, minus EA/commitment discount (if any)
Availability Anyone, on demand Requires approval from Microsoft
Identity (Azure AD) Integrates Office 365 & 3rd party SaaS Isolated, no integration
Coverage World Wide CONUS Only (traffic will not leave US)

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