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Unisys Unveils Microsoft Azure Version of CloudForte

Unisys, the Pennsylvania-based digital transformation company, has now released cloud transition software for the two biggest cloud companies, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, betting on managed services.

by / February 4, 2019

Seven months after launching a cloud migration tool for Amazon Web Services, Pennsylvania-based Unisys Corp. has released a follow-up for customers of Amazon’s top cloud competitor, Microsoft Azure.

Announced Monday at the Microsoft Ignite technology conference in Washington, D.C., CloudForte for Azure features the same basic functionality as its AWS counterpart, helping governments create and manage cloud environments and services. A news release about the product said it guarantees access to current and future cloud services released by Microsoft, is designed to automatically comply with public policies, and identifies which of its users' legacy systems most need to move to the cloud.

An award-winning “gold partner” of Microsoft in years past, Unisys nonetheless released CloudForte for AWS first. Gary Wang, vice president of cloud and infrastructure services at Unisys, said this was because AWS is the largest cloud provider — but once that product was finished, his team spent six to seven months reformatting it for Azure while applying lessons from feedback, market research and development.

Wang said AWS customers tended to be early adopters of cloud technology while Azure customers in many cases were more risk-averse, waiting for test runs in other communities. But he said the customer needs for each are similar, and growing.

“A lot of our customers are looking for not just running typical computer storage in a cloud,” he said. “They’re looking for a cloud platform provided by AWS and Azure for innovations like biometrics, artificial intelligence, IoT solutions.”

Reading the market, Wang said he believes cloud transition is at an inflection point: Last year the federal government rebranded its “cloud first” policy as “cloud smart,” still emphasizing innovation, and Microsoft announced a $5 billion, four-year investment in IoT solutions last year.

“You look at the number of  RFPs issued by different government agencies, [the cloud] is coming really strong,” he said. “At the state and local level last year, Unisys won multiple state deals, including the state of Kansas, the state of Georgia, the state of Virginia, and a contract in Hawaii for social services. All of our state customers are telling us, 'Unisys, we want to move to the cloud.'”

What’s stopping them? Workflow and integration problems, especially for larger governments, and the prohibitive expense of hiring more staff to manage new technology. Wang said CloudForte offers to address both, competing with similar offerings by companies like Perspecta, Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton and Smartronix in three key ways: offering educational workshops, solving compliance issues on the back end, and a faster, more automated migration process.

“We think providing managed services for the cloud is going to be a very appealing value proposition for a lot of our customers, so instead of leveraging internal resources, they can go to managed service providers like Unisys to run the cloud service for them, to reduce their cost and reduce their risk,” he said.

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Andrew Westrope Staff Writer

Andrew Westrope is a staff writer for Government Technology. Before that, he was a reporter and editor at community newspapers for seven years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.

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