Taser switches to Azure from AWS to power cloud services

A new partnership between the two companies will lead to Windows 10 apps and more

Law enforcement technology company Taser announced Monday that it will be moving its future cloud services away from Amazon Web Services and onto Microsoft's Azure cloud platform, including the Evidence.com software-as-a-service package and video storage platform for its Axon video cameras.

Taser is perhaps best known for the electroshock weapons that bear its name, but the company also operates Evidence.com, a service sold to law enforcement agencies that aids in the cataloging, storage and secure sharing of evidence including audio recordings, videos and images. The company's Axon camera unit offers body cameras and cloud storage for footage from that same hardware, too. 

Prior to this deal, Taser was running all of its systems on Amazon Web Services architecture, but will be switching over to Microsoft's cloud. The company expects that agencies will be able to beta test the Azure integration during the fourth quarter of this year, and Taser's products on Azure will be generally available by the first quarter of 2016. Agencies that are already using Taser's products on AWS don't have to move if they don't want to. 

As part of the deal, Taser also plans to create new experiences for Windows 10 devices, supporting Microsoft's push behind its new operating system. That's key for Microsoft, since the company is also pushing organizations of all stripes to upgrade the hardware they have deployed to Windows 10. By getting Taser to build apps for its new OS, Microsoft would make that more appealing to law enforcement, which may drive sales of new Windows 10 devices or push departments to finally upgrade. 

In many ways, Azure and AWS offer similar solutions, but there are a few major differences that stand out between the two companies. One key difference, according to Axon General Manager Marcus Womack, is the fact that Azure has a data center located in Canada, which is important for law enforcement agencies that have to follow data sovereignty rules in some parts of that country. 

Womack also said that Taser was also interested in examining how the company could use Microsoft's computer vision services to improve the video redaction capabilities in its products. Redaction is important for law enforcement agencies in states like Washington that are subject to bulk data requests. 

Taser using more of Azure's computer vision capabilities would also be a twofold win for Microsoft. Using those services is more expensive than just using raw compute time through Azure's infrastructure-as-a-service offering, and it also helps lock in customers who rely on those tools in order to operate their businesses. 

Right now, the partnership is still in its early days. Taser won't require that its existing customers migrate to Azure, so it's likely the company will be paying AWS bills for a while yet. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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