On Monday, Microsoft received FedRAMP Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the Joint Authorization Board, an organization that certifies cloud vendors for use by the Federal government. FedRAMP standardizes “security assessments, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.” The Joint Authorization Board is the governance body of FedRAMP and is composed of representatives from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. General Services Administration. Even though Microsoft has yet to procure full Authority to Operate (ATO), the achievement of Provisional Authority to Operate represents a huge coup for Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform with respect to its plans to increase market share in the lucrative government cloud infrastructure space. Competitor Amazon Web Services has already procured full ATO status while HP, CGI Federal, Lockheed Martin and Akamai have received P-ATO status. Windows Azure represents the first combined IaaS and PaaS public cloud platform to achieve FedRAMP certification.