Amazon GovCloud for US Government: Cloud Services Launched

Although Microsoft and Google both offer cloud services that fit with federal requirements, that hasn’t stopped Amazon climbing on board and yesterday the company announced GovCloud, cloud storage services for the U.S. government. The services will be used by US government users and contractors and Amazon’s GovCloud will satisfy the strict regulatory federal requirements necessary.

Amazon Web Services GovCloud will incorporate services such as Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple Storage Service, Elastic Block Store and Amazon Virtual Cloud, according to J. Nicholas Hoover of Information Week. The servers for AWS GovCloud are situated on the West Coast of the US, which will be no doubt be reassuring to many.

GovCloud will satisfy the moderate security control levels for the Federal Information Security Management Act and along with that will also meet FIPS 140-2, which is a cryptography standard. Information Week states that according to Amazon “GovCloud supports processing and storage of export-controlled, often defense-related, data and applications governed by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), as it limits both logical and physical access to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.”

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said in a blog, “Our government customers sometimes have an additional layer of regulatory requirements given that they at times deal with highly sensitive information, such as defense-related data. GovCloud helps U.S. government agencies and contractors move more of their workloads to the cloud by implementing a number of government-specific regulatory requirements.”

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is an example of a government agency more likely to adopt the use of cloud services because of strict government regulations being complied with. Its CTO, Tomas Soderstrom, said “As we move workloads into the cloud, we look forward to leveraging ITAR-compliant clouds such as the new AWS GovCloud for our compliance-dependent projects so we can continue to look to the cloud first for even more missions.” GovCloud will be available either as a pay-as-you-go option or alternatively on a year or multi-year term.

One of the Obama administration’s initiatives at present is the Cloud First Policy which asks for the possibility of using cloud services to be considered when making IT investments, so the Amazon announcement fits in nicely with this. Add to this the fact that 800 federal data centers are targeted to be closed by 2015 under the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative and GovCloud definitely seems to be a timely move from Amazon. Amazon also announced that it might one day provide cloud services for other countries’ governmental requirements.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on the US government increasing its use of cloud storage for sensitive content. Do you feel that the cloud is the way of the future or maybe you’re worried about security? Let us know with your comments.