Microsoft stands up Azure Stack for government as JEDI contract looms

Microsoft announced today that it’s released Azure Stack for Azure Government at a time when it’s battling rivals at Amazon and other cloud companies for the massive winner-take-all $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract known as JEDI. Azure Stack provides customers with a similar set of cloud services that they would get in the public cloud, […]

Microsoft announced today that it’s released Azure Stack for Azure Government at a time when it’s battling rivals at Amazon and other cloud companies for the massive winner-take-all $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract known as JEDI.

Azure Stack provides customers with a similar set of cloud services that they would get in the public cloud, but inside the cozy confines of the customer data center. For Azure cloud customers who are looking to manage across public and private environments, often referred to as a hybrid approach, it gives a common look and feel across both public and private.

“As a cornerstone of Microsoft’s hybrid cloud approach, consistency means government customers get the same infrastructure and services with Azure Stack as they do with Azure — the same APIs, DevOps tools, portal, and more,”Natalia Mackevicius, Program Director, Microsoft Azure Stack wrote in a blog post announcing the new program.

In addition, the company announced it had passed a third-party FedRamp certification. FedRamp is a government program that provides a standardized way for government procurement officials to assess cloud security.

“Azure Stack for Azure Government directly addresses many other significant challenges our top federal government customers face. This includes tough regulatory, connectivity and latency requirements,” Mackevicius, wrote in a blog post announcement.

While this product is geared for any government customer, this news could certainly be appealing to the Pentagon, which is looking for one vendor to rule them in its latest mega cloud RFP. While Microsoft wouldn’t comment on JEDI specifically because it’s in the midst of answering that RFP, the timing can’t be a coincidence.

Microsoft, along with other competitors including Oracle and IBM, have been complaining bitterly that the one-vendor contract process unfairly favors Amazon. These companies have recommended that the Pentagon go with a multi-vendor approach to prevent lock-in and take advantage of innovation across sellers. The complaints so far has fallen on deaf ears at the Pentagon.

Regardless, Microsoft is still battling hard for the massive contract and today’s release certainly bolsters their approach as they continue to fight to win the JEDI deal — and other government business.

Amazon’s AWS continues to lead its performance highlights

Amazon’s web services AWS continue to be the highlight of the company’s balance sheet, one again showing the kind of growth Amazon is looking for in a new business for the second quarter — especially one that has dramatically better margins than its core retail business. Despite now running a grocery chain, the company’s AWS […]

Amazon’s web services AWS continue to be the highlight of the company’s balance sheet, one again showing the kind of growth Amazon is looking for in a new business for the second quarter — especially one that has dramatically better margins than its core retail business.

Despite now running a grocery chain, the company’s AWS division — which has an operating margin over 25% compared to its tiny margins on retail — grew 49% year-over-year in the quarter compared to last year’s second quarter. It’s also up 49% year-over-year when comparing the most recent six months to the same period last year. AWS is now on a run rate well north of $10 billion annually, generating more than $6 billion in revenue in the second quarter this year. Meanwhile, amazon’s retail operations generated nearly $47 billion with a net income of just over $1.3 billion (unaudited). Amazon’s AWS generated $1.6 billion in operating income on its $6.1 billion in revenue.

So, in short, Amazon’s dramatically more efficient AWS business is its biggest contributor to its actual net income. The company reported earnings of $5.07 per share, compared to analyst estimates of around $2.50 per share, on revenue of $52.9 billion. That revenue number fell under what investors were looking for, so the stock isn’t really doing anything in after hours and Amazon still remains in the race to become a company with a market cap of $1 trillion alongside Google, Apple and Microsoft.

This isn’t extremely surprising as Amazon was one of the original harbingers of the move to a cloud computing-focused world, and as a result Microsoft and Google are now chasing it to capture up as much share as possible. While Microsoft doesn’t break out Azure, the company says it’s one of its fastest-growing businesses, and Google’s “other revenue” segment that includes Google Cloud Platform also continues to be one of its fastest-growing divisions. Running a bunch of servers with access to on-demand compute, it turns out, is a pretty efficient business that can account for the very slim margins that Amazon has on the rest of its core business.

Google launches “Shielded VMs” to protect cloud servers from rootkits, data theft

New features lock down VMs, verifying security at boot—and preventing hostile snapshot “migration.”

Enlarge (credit: Donald Iain Smith / Getty Images)

This week, Google is rolling out a number of new cloud security technologies aimed at making the public cloud a safer place. Among them is Shielded VMs, a feature of Google Cloud Platform that protects virtual machines from the installation of rootkits and other persistent malware, as well as other attacks that could result in data theft.

Using a cryptographically protected baseline measurement of the VM's image, the Shielded VMs feature—launched in beta today—provides a way of "tamper-proofing" virtual machines and alerting their owners to changes in their runtime state. Shielded VMs also make it possible to prevent a virtual machine from being booted in a different context than it was originally deployed in—in other words, preventing theft of VMs through "snap-shotting" or other duplication.

Virtually secure

Major cloud providers have been trying to blunt threats to virtual machines and cloud application containers in a number of ways—with hardened operating system images for virtual machines and with "confidential computing" models that prevent compromises of the underlying machine's operating system from providing access, for instance.

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Microsoft posts bumper Q4, with Windows, Surface, Azure all up

Cloud division up a whopping 23 percent, year on year.

(credit: Julien GONG Min / Flickr)

Microsoft has posted the results of the fourth quarter of its 2018 financial year, running up until June 30, 2018. Revenue was $30.1 billion (up 17 percent, year on year), operating income was $10.4 billion (up 35 percent), net income was $8.8 billion (a rise of 10 percent), and earnings per share were $1.14 (an increase of 11 percent).

This brings the full-year revenue to $110.4 billion (up 14 percent on the 2017 financial year), with operating income of $35.1 billion (up 21 percent) and net income of $16.6 billion, a drop of 35 percent, attributed to the impact of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act's $13.8 billion repatriation tax. Without that, the company would have been looking at a net income of $30.3 billion, up 18 percent on 2017.

Microsoft currently has three reporting segments: Productivity and Business Processes (covering Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Skype, and Dynamics), Intelligent Cloud (including Azure, Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Enterprise Services), and More Personal Computing (covering Windows, hardware, and Xbox, as well as search and advertising). This reporting structure has been retained even though the Windows division has been reorganized with responsibilities split between different groups.

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