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Azure Certifications and Compliance

Monday, August 27, 2018

Recently I had the opportunity to review the Microsoft Azure compliance offerings and certifications. I did this because some customers want to see proof that Microsoft isn’t running a datacenter out of a 3-car garage in Kirkland.

Compliance docs are difficult to wade through, so while researching I decided I would also binge-watch early seasons of Parts Unknown. Every time I came across the phrase 'policies and process' or a sentence with more than 3 acronyms inside, I could pause and watch chef Bourdain eat tripe stew in an abandoned bomb shelter. There might never be another show like it.

Where to Find Compliance Offerings

Azure maintains compliance with numerous global, regional, and industry-specific requirements. The Compliance Offerings page is a good starting point to find a specific standard.

One thing to keep in mind is that a standard, requirement, or statement of compliance doesn’t necessarily apply to all of Azure or Microsoft. Microsoft will clearly state the services and products covered by a certification. Some certifications will cover all of Azure, while others might cover a specific product (Office 365 only), or a specific region (Azure US Government or Azure Germany), or a subset of platforms in Azure (Storage and App Services, for example).

Some of my Favorites

Here’s a list of my Azure favorites. Keep in mind I do a bit of work in the U.S. healthcare industry.

  1. ISO 27001 - Compliance with this family of standards demonstrates that Azure follows industry best practices in the policies, procedures, and technical controls for information security.

  2. HIPPA and the HITECH Act - Azure has enabled the physical, technical, and administrative safeguards required by HIPAA and the HITECH Act inside specific services. Microsoft offers a HIPAA BAA as part of the Microsoft Online Services Terms.

  3. HITRUST – the Health Information Trust Alliance maintains a certifiable framework to help healthcare organizations demonstrate their security and compliance.

  4. FedRAMP – Azure offers various compliance offerings for the U.S. Government, including DoD (DISA SRG Level 2, 4, 5) and CMS (MARS-E) specific offerings. In general, these certifications allow federal government and DoD contractors to process, store, and transmit government data. FedRAMP itself is an assessment and authorization process for U.S. federal agencies to facilitate cloud computing.

And now, back to programming …