An important step when contemplating to move to GCC–High is understanding if you can qualify to move to GCC High. If you touch ITAR/EAR along with CUI/CDI in many cases or need to comply with DFARS Flow-Down requirements, then your organization will want to investigate in GCC–High. Richard Wakeman from Microsoft has a great article that goes into the compliance requirements covered under each cloud. Once you have determined that GCC High is where your organization needs to be, then you can start the process of registering with Microsoft for acceptance.
While working through the process, I advise you to start taking inventory of your organization’s current environment. This includes items like workstations, OS utilized on the workstations, file shares, on-premise servers and network components, along with business-essential software or services. Keep in mind that while working through your plan, it is always useful to involve the assistance of a Microsoft AOS-G Partner that can assist in the architecting. By working with an AOS-G Partner through the planning process, an organization can avoid preconceived ideas based on how things work in the commercial environment that might not be the same in GCC–High.
Now on to the timing and cost difference from commercial to GCC–High. Most organizations are used to monthly billing and quick set up of a new tenant. Given that GCC–High was built on DoD requirements, there are some nuances to consider. First is the GCC–High cloud environment itself. The datacenters reside in the Continental United States and are operated by cleared Microsoft staff that undergo a rigorous background check and are dedicated to working in GCC–High.
Second is that all the services that are placed into GCC–High must go through an intensive certification process. With those certifications comes additional processes that must be followed when setting up a new tenant. This belabors the amount of time in onboarding a new organization. As of the writing of this article, the SLA from Microsoft is 6 to 8 weeks, which excludes time for configuration and migration of data. The last component is the cost. A lot of effort, time, and money goes into setting up and maintaining a GCC–High environment. Microsoft requires that GCC–High licenses be purchased on an annual basis and are approximately 30% to 50% more expensive than Commercial cloud licenses.
Microsoft’s government cloud environment can be quite complex, but I hope this information is helpful. If you have any additional questions or would like more information, feel free to reach out to us. As one of the few Microsoft partners that can support GCC-High migrations, our team of experienced consultants would be happy to schedule a call with you.