Microsoft Invites Feds To Azure OpenAI

The service has been optimized for government users' elevated privacy and security needs.

Microsoft's Azure OpenAI service is now commercially available to users of the Azure government cloud

In an announcement this week, Microsoft said Azure OpenAI for government supports those users' elevated security and privacy needs.    

"Azure OpenAI Service REST APIs provide access to OpenAI’s powerful language models, including GPT-4, GPT-3, and Embeddings," wrote Microsoft's Bill Chappell Chief Technology Officer, Strategic Missions and Technologies, in the  announcement. "You can adapt these models to your specific task, including but not limited to content generation, summarization, semantic search and natural language-to-code translation."

Chappell pointed that government users can especially benefit from generating responses using grounding data -- which only pulls queue results and prompted answers from internal data sources deemed trustworthy by the organization. "In general, the closer you can get your source material to the final form of the answer you want, the less work the model needs to do, which means there is less opportunity for error."

Microsoft  said that government users' data will stay secured by encrypting prompt queries with MACsec AES-128 block cipher. Further, the data will only travel, and not be stored, in the Azure OpenAI model. Microsoft also promised that inputted government data will not be used to further train the AI models.

Azure Government is interconnected with the commercial Microsoft Azure network and "doesn't peer directly with the public internet or the Microsoft corporate network," as illustrated in Figure 1.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1.

Government IT can also request consideration for limited access eligibility to the Azure OpenAI Services to gain additional management capabilities. Per Chappell:

Microsoft allows customers who meet additional Limited access eligibility criteria and attest to specific use cases to apply to modify the Azure OpenAI content management features. If Microsoft approves a customer’s request to modify data logging, then Microsoft does not store any prompts and completions associated with the approved Azure subscription for which data logging is configured off in Azure commercial.

For those looking to take advantage of the Azure OpenAI Service, Microsoft has published a quick guide for organizations.  

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.