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Microsoft Cloud Government

Microsoft Is Working On a Cloud Operating System For the US Government 171

Posted by timothy
from the like-a-sticky-enveloping-fog-of-goo dept.
SmartAboutThings writes "It seems that Microsoft is relying even more on the opportunities provided by the cloud technology. The Redmond behemoth is preparing to come up with a cloud operating system that is specially meant for government purposes. Government agencies already use two of Microsoft's basic cloud products: Windows Azure and Windows Server. But now it seems that Microsoft is working on a modified version of its somewhat new Cloud OS that could bear the name 'Fairfax.' Compared to Windows Azure, the 'Fairfax' cloud operating system would provide enhanced security, relying on physical servers on site at government locations. Given that CEO Steve Ballmer is striving to make Microsoft much more than a powerful software giant, such a project makes sense, especially because it would help in their lobby activities."
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Microsoft Is Working On a Cloud Operating System For the US Government

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  • cloud OS ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by etash (1907284) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:17PM (#44537677)
    you mean like unix was a "cloud" OS and you could connect via dumb terminals to it?
    • by Teresita (982888) <badinage1@netzero do t net> on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:26PM (#44537729) Homepage
      SpyDrive
    • Helping the NSA? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, no, although that is interesting.

      It's "Cloud", as in cloudy thinking, I'm guessing. It's cloud in the sense that you aren't allowed to know what the government is doing. It's cloud in the sense that Microsoft is not doing well lately, and is desperate for an easy contract for expensive stuff, paid by taxpayers.
      • by Camael (1048726) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:27PM (#44539475)

        As QWest found out the hard way [businessinsider.com], if you don't cooperate with NSA, you don't get government contracts.

        Here is the background to the story [usatoday.com].

        Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

        Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database.

        The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard.

        Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

        In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

        So, MS gets lucrative government contracts. What does that say?

      • by cinky (2632165)
        TIL 20+ billion net income and steady growth over the last few years means "not doing well". who is doing well then?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Plan9 should be how cloud OS's work. (So wasteful the way it works at the moment).

    • Skynet (Score:5, Funny)

      by sycodon (149926) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:41PM (#44539515)

      How is it possible that the First Post didn't reference Skynet?

      Slashdot is not what it used to be.

    • by OakDragon (885217)
      1) "Cloud"
      2) "Microsoft"
      3) "U.S. Government"


      It's a Slashdot hat-trick!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    every good joke has a punchline.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... and when the single, centralized mega-host of *every* government system gets compromised...?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Given the fact that CEO Steve Ballmer is striving to make Microsoft much more than a powerful software giant, such a project makes sense"

    So a cloud OS is not software?

    • Of course not. Server software is not the cloud, duh! They are just the exact same things but different names. Don't tell the customer though.

      • Indeed, but they are billed differently. Server software is a one-off purchase -> you buy it, you own it; cloud software is 'software as a service,' meaning that, among other things, you're renting the software, and paying a monthly bill to boot. Since most companies enjoy a three year upgrade cycle (they may skip upgrades, because they are unnecessary, or they save money), going with the cloud means they are potentially paying more. Now don't get me wrong, there are some benefits to the cloud: 1.) the s

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not only Microsoft collaborates with security agencies, any operating system has to be monitored by security agencies such countries.
    You can find basic support possible to protect your privacy (the user) with possible toys and useful free tools.
    But keep in mind that most online services will help close possibly under pressure from governments.
    Greetings. )

    http://amigodlosdebiles.wix.com/noun#!nethatters---netprotectors/cnjk

  • by Allnighterking (74212) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:30PM (#44537747) Homepage
    It will connect to 365 so that everyone can do power points and spreadsheets. Outlook. com for mail, and not much more.
  • A fairer way of rephrasing the last line might be "such a project WOULD make EVEN MORE sense IF it helped them in their lobby activities." The disadvantage being that it begs the question "How does selling software or any products to the government help in lobby activities?"
  • Since the cloud is for government, microsoft can provide a version without all the logging and backdoors, thus massively faster and less resource-hungry. It will probably run pretty well on a 486.

    • Ah..... I remember the days of playing Half Life on a 233Mhz computer with probably 256Mb of ram and not a single hiccup in the graphics. Now days I'm running 1.9 - 2.4 Ghz with 4-6 Gb of ram and my computers seem to have trouble dealing with even simple FPS games with slightly better graphics.

  • As long as I have time to relocate outside the country before it goes online, I'm ok with it.
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:47PM (#44537861) Homepage Journal
    US will start to replace rones with chairs.
  • This is an advance? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir Holo (531007) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:51PM (#44537883)
    I don't get it. How do they call it "in the cloud" if the servers are located on-site? Isn't that what we started with decades ago –– a server and dumb terminals (er, excuse me, a thin client)? And storage is so cheap these days!

    Yes, it's safer to have everything physically in-house (or securely co-located). But, what I can't fathom is how any of the purchasing-department types and manager-types fall for this "new" setup that offers no advantages. It's just handcuffing your company to that one vendor.


    /CSB: At a former company, upper management studied options for getting off of Lotus Notes, the biggest heap of crap I've ever seen. The conclusion of their expensive study was that, "We can't afford to get off of Lotus Notes. The change-over would be too expensive."

    I think IBM got wind of the study, and raised their price even more for the next renewal.
    • by game kid (805301) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @05:21PM (#44538071) Homepage

      "I don't get it. How do they call it "in the cloud" if the servers are located on-site?"

      Carefully. Microsoft believes any sufficiently nebulous implementation is indistinguishable from something patentworthy.

      • Microsoft believes any sufficiently nebulous implementation is indistinguishable from something patentworthy.

        Microsoft can't patent The Cloud, so are they already planning for "The Nebula"?

    • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:14PM (#44538649) Homepage Journal

      A "cloud" is nothing more than a distributed set of clusters coordinated to perform a task or tasks. There is nothing architecturally spectacular about placing some nodes at a customer's own site vs. something like Amazon or IBM clouds where they have data centers scattered around the world.

      The problem is too many people think "cloud" has a specific architectural meaning. It does not. It's more a means of managing VM and physical nodes in groups of clusters, with the capacity for shifting loads and data from node to node at the push of a button (or at the behest of automated tuning and load balancing services.)

      It's not magic.

      Mainframes were doing "cloud" processing in the '80s, and so was VMS. The only difference nowadays is network transport capability has grown to replace the specialized buses those older systems used, and allow for a greater physical distribution of the nodes than those old technologies did.

      Kids.

      They think because someone came up with a new buzzword that they've "invented" something.

      • by dkf (304284)

        The real innovation of Cloud is not in the technology, where it is just a bunch of stuff that already existed brought together with some improved networking. The real innovation is in the business models enabled by it, both for providers and customers. Super short-term rent of remote hardware while hiding all the details of what is going on from the downstream consumers? That lets you do all sorts of interesting things that were wholly impractical before. Every time I see someone saying that the Cloud has n

  • by AndroSyn (89960) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:51PM (#44537885) Homepage

    It sure sounds like Microsoft wants to be like Big Blue, making their big bucks in consulting services. It seems to be working out okay for them, I'm not entirely sure Microsoft however can manage not to shoot themselves in the foot in trying it.

  • by Gogo0 (877020) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @04:59PM (#44537933)
    there was a document that went out from DoD about two months ago; a thin-client/zero-disk initiative architectural overview. DoD's (public) plan is to transition to a majority thin client IS (information system) inventory by 2020. the servers will be Enterprise assets (meaning, theatre-level) so those at different installations (on-the-ground administrators) will not have a choice. case in point, there are authorized security baselne configurations for redhat, centOS, and other *nixes. there used to be one for Mac, but it was discontinued (dunno why). even when Mac was legally usable on the DoD network, it and *nixes needed waivers and by-hand security configuration out the ass to be usable for any normal work. you dont have your email classification application (ones ive seen were windows-only outlook plugins), no group policy, no HBSS (at the time), etc. you had your choice of operating systems, but everyone used Windows.

    i was very excited to read the DoD overview, we spend way too much money on what are basically the same computers over and over (no functional need to upgrade from the first 64bit core 2 duos we bought years ago aside from product end of life, but that can be worked out with the vendor if the DoD put some effort into it) except for the fact that we keep upgrading to the latest and greatest Windows and then shitting on it with banners, some inane (and some not) security crap, and local clients (HBSS, remote desktop, AV, SCCM, etc...). put a thin client on everyone's desk and instead of a team of soldiers endlessly patching windows vulns that SCCM didnt hit (likely the client shitting itself for no reason), you patch the master image and everyone is GTG. save money, save time (more money).

    god i hope this isnt what theyre settling on for their "thin client"
    • by Anonymous Coward

      In the DOE, we already use Sun/Oracle's SunRay thin clients for this. It works pretty well.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      well, don';t worry - now a team of soldiers will be endlessly ensuring the network is in place and working reliably.

      • by Gogo0 (877020) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @05:44PM (#44538189)
        as a DoD civilian, i manage teams of soldiers and am responsible for their work. this is my problem to deal with when it arrives =\ would prefer to make our network more secure, more sustainable, for less cost (in products and man hours -it is very possible), but from working for the US Govt the past five years and seeing the inner workings, i know that very few people give a shit about saving money or improving processes.
        • Duh! Why would anyone want to bite the hand that feeds?

          • by Gogo0 (877020)
            they say they cant afford to pay us to come in five days a week while during that time people are sent back and forth to hawaii (airfare, hotel, per diem) for things a video teleconference could accomplish, among other extravagant wastes of money. its painful to see every day, i genuinely miss the time when i was ignorant to gross government waste of tax dollars.

            and our paychecks are cut 20% by working only four days a week (albeit this iteration is soon to end) for political theatre. if the hand is beating
            • by dkf (304284)

              they say they cant afford to pay us to come in five days a week while during that time people are sent back and forth to hawaii (airfare, hotel, per diem) for things a video teleconference could accomplish, among other extravagant wastes of money

              On the point of video conferencing, it's not quite as good as that. Even leaving aside the technical difficulties (getting volume levels right seems to be the hardest thing) there are other problems. In particular, a video conference is rather more like a teleconference than a meeting in person; there are things that are just much easier to do face to face. It seems to be just how people work socially. What the video conference can do though is reduce the frequency of F2F meetings to the level required for

  • Ha hahahahahahahahaha.....

  • "Cloud Technology" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @05:06PM (#44537993)
    For fuck's sake, "cloud" is not a technology, it's the latest marketing scam to get everyone relinquish control of their devices and data to the modern equivalent of the mainframe.
    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @05:19PM (#44538051)

      For fuck's sake, "cloud" is not a technology, it's the latest marketing scam to get everyone relinquish control of their devices and data to the modern equivalent of the mainframe.

      Well of course. How else do vendors expect to monetize your data if it is sitting on your local machine in your posession? Now that computers are a commodity and there isn't any money to be made from selling hardware and software, they need to find something to charge for. In the past they charged you to use their program to create your data. Now they want to charge you to actually store and access your data.

      It has nothing to do with the technology it is all about the money. Well that and the marketing to convince everbody that this is somehow new and better.

      • Marketing it may be, but insanely profitable it will eventually also be.

        It will only take a few scandals of high-level CEOs / Chairmen having their privacy routinely violated, or their new patented drug stolen out from under their noses, for them to decide that they want their data somewhere 'close to home.' If / when this happens...which the tea leaves are pointing to...the cost for re-installation of servers / data centers locally will be quite profitable. As the president of one company I worked for like

    • Oh and by the way, we can supply the terminals as well. What you don't need a million? Ok, we'll why don't we give you a few spares just in case. (quickly loads trucks full of Surface RT's)
    • I have a single node, localised, single user cloud server .... also known as a PC ..

    • by quonsar (61695)
      It'll never work. There's no way to reboot the internet every 24 hours.
  • by korbulon (2792438) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @05:18PM (#44538049)

    Ron Swanson said it best: "Never half-ass two things:. Whole-ass one thing."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Compared to Windows Azure, "Fairfax" cloud operating system would provide enhanced security, relying on physical servers on site at government locations.

    This tells me all I need to know about Microsoft's cloud server solutions. It needs enhanced security to be used by an organization that has data it wants to keep and control access to.

  • Instead of the 'Start' menu, they will have the 'Spy' menu.
  • ... Microsoft Foggy BackOffice.

  • So why did they name it after a dying Australian newspaper company? Is it like naming Azure after the blue screen?
  • If things keep going the way they are going, then the US govt will soon be their only customer. So of course they are "working" on this ...

    http://www.zerohedge.com/print/477053 [zerohedge.com]

  • by JohnRoss1968 (574825) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @08:41PM (#44538981)

    Like you didn't see that coming.

  • How these people can claim to make anything that is cloud-worthy is beyond me.

  • ...a cloud operating system that is specially meant for government purposes.

    Cloud OS = vaporware, right? And an OS geared towards government would have to be slow, heavy, overly bureaucratic, doing things that you are not supposed to know about and sending information about your activities to somebody that you are told about - that's Windows, basically, isn't it?

  • I say old bean, looks like you're trying to dash off a missive to an aged aunt. Mind if I give it a bash, what-what?
  • you might as well just send the chinese govern^H^H^H^H^H^H rogue hackers a copy of all our files because with microsoft's level of security, they'll have their hands on everything in a few days.

  • "I see you would like to stop the missle countdown. May I help?"

  • Both companies still create a lot of hardware and software, but dont make truck loads of money in those sectors any more. Startups are more nimble at exploiting new computing niches. IBMs main revenue is from services.

How many Unix hacks does it take to change a light bulb? Let's see, can you use a shell script for that or does it need a C program?

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