What is GGC High Feature Parity?
Have you ever wondered why Microsoft’s Government Community Cloud High (GCC High) always lags behind Commercial Microsoft 365 in terms of releasing new features? Feature parity can be a significant decision point when moving to GCC High, but it is also important when managing the expectations of end users and executives.
In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of GCC High feature parity, explain why the features differ, and provide resources to help you understand when critical components will become available in GCC High. Whether you are already using GCC High or considering migrating to GCC High, read on to learn how to stay ahead of the curve.
GCC High Feature Parity and Commercial Environments
The primary concern of many organizations is the feature parity between GCC High and Commercial environments. Microsoft first releases new features in Commercial Microsoft 365 and then roll them out to GCC High and other sovereign clouds such as DOD and 21ViaNet
Therefore, GCC High is always behind Commercial in releasing new features. However, the good news is that most features eventually reach GCC High, typically around 12 months after General Availability.
Why are the Features Not Identical?
GCC High and DOD meet FedRAMP High and have provisional authorization from Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Impact Level 4 (IL 4). As part of this authorization, Microsoft must meet a more stringent certification process for new features and products as they move into GCC High and Azure Government.
Features and products are subject to a longer and more rigorous certification process before they are available in GCC High. While this delay may seem inconvenient, it is necessary to ensure that the highest level of security and compliance is maintained.
GGC High Feature Parity: Understanding Microsoft Release Phases
To better understand the different release phases of Microsoft, let’s look at each of them below.
The Preview release phase is the first stage in the release process for Microsoft 365 GCC High and Azure Government. There are two stages within the Preview release phase: Private and Public.
- Private: The Private stage is the earliest stage of development and testing for new features. This stage is limited to Microsoft employees and invited partners only. It provides a controlled environment for testing and development of new features.
- Public: The public stage is the second stage of the Preview release phase. This stage is available to all GCC High and Azure Government customers. While the features in this stage are available for testing, they are not yet supported and are subject to change.
2. Targeted Release
Targeted Release is the second stage of the release process for Microsoft 365 GCC High and Azure Government. During the Targeted Release stage, administrators can opt-in to new features for their organization. They can enable the new features for select users or groups within their organization.
3. Limited Availability
The Limited Availability phase is the third stage in the release process for Microsoft 365 GCC High and Azure Government. Microsoft selects several environments to receive the new features during the Limited Availability phase. They can test the components in real-world settings and identify any issues that require addressing before releasing them to the general public.
4. General Availability
The General Availability phase is the final stage in the release process for Microsoft 365 GCC High and Azure Government. In this phase, new features are available to all tenants in the respective cloud environments.
After completing the Limited Availability phase, Microsoft releases the new feature to all tenants in the respective cloud environments. All Microsoft 365 GCC High or Azure Government customers can now access the feature. Features in the General Availability phase are considered stable and reliable.
GCC High Features Parity and Commercial Environments Tracking
Several resources are available to users to keep track of features in Microsoft 365 GCC High and Commercial environments. These resources can help technical decision-makers determine when critical components will become available in GCC High. Here are some of them
1. Microsoft Roadmap
The Microsoft Roadmap is a comprehensive resource that outlines the release phases of new features in Microsoft 365. Users can select the Cloud Instance option and then choose GCC High to view the features that are available or in development for this environment. The resource offers users a clear overview of the release timelines for each feature.
2. Cloud Feature Availability
The Cloud Feature Availability for Azure Commercial and Azure Government is a helpful resource that provides users with information about which features are available in each environment. This resource allows users to search for specific features and determine if they are available in GCC High or Commercial environments. Users can view the features currently in development and the expected release dates.
3. Microsoft Public Sector Blog Roadmap Newsletter
The Microsoft Public Sector Blog is useful for staying up-to-date on new features and updates related to GCC High and Azure Government. The blog provides a comprehensive overview of new features and updates, including release timelines and details about any potential impacts on users. Users can subscribe to the Microsoft Public Sector Blog Roadmap Newsletter to receive regular updates about new features and updates related to GCC High and Azure Government updates.
These resources inform technical decision-makers about the latest features and updates in GCC High and Commercial environments. Organizations can use this information to make informed decisions about when and how to migrate to GCC High and ensure they can use the latest Microsoft 365 features.
Stay Ahead of Feature Releases with Agile IT
Businesses considering migrating their organization to the GCC High environment must understand the feature parity differences in compliance between GCC High and GCC and Commercial. Although GCC High generally lags behind Commercial Microsoft 365 in releasing new features, organizations can stay up-to-date with available resources.
Agile IT was one of the first partners selected by Microsoft to license and manage GCC High and Azure Government. We stay updated on every aspect of the Microsoft cloud and proactively inform our clients about the changes that impact them the most through our AgileAdvisor program. To find out how we can help your organization stay at the leading edge, contact us today.