One of the hot debates among cloud watchers has been whether cloud vendors will someday federate and provide transparent services across continental boundaries. Microsoft provided an interesting twist to this debate just before the RSA Conference kicked off here in San Francisco.
As noted by Gavin Clark in The Register:
“Among the features (in Microsoft’s latest U.S. government cloud offerings) are secured and separate hosting facilities access, to which is restricted to a small number of US citizens who have cleared rigorous background checks under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).”
In other words, Microsoft has defined a large private cloud segment that will never span political boundaries. However, not every Federal process must comply with ITAR or even the higher levels of FISMA. It will be interesting to see whether other cloud vendors follow suit with their own private offerings or if private government clouds restricted to and maintained in a single country are just a niche.