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Amazon becoming a force in government cloud services

Amazon.com has made no secret of its interest in pursuing government customers for Amazon Web Services, its cloud services arm, and lately it has been adding services and capacity to help meet those aims.

Amazon recently said that more than 300 government agencies, looking to become “more innovative, agile, and cost-efficient” had already become AWS customers.

The company hoped to add to those numbers in May when a cloud services framework it developed with the Health and Human Services Department was approved by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program office, giving an impetus for more agencies to adopt the AWS’s HHS cloud framework.

In March, AWS scored a 10-year, $600 million deal with the CIA for cloud computing services, further raising the credibility of the company – and the reputation of cloud technology – among agencies requiring the highest cloud security possible. Amazon was on a roll, but it soon hit speed bump. On June 6, the Government Accountability Office sustained a protest by IBM against the CIA contact, putting the project back on square one. But despite the ups and downs, there are indications Amazon is steadily laying the groundwork for a growing government presence.

Last September, the U.K. research firm Netcraft reported that AWS had become the largest hosting company in the world. In the last eight months, the number of its Web-facing servers had grown by a third to 158,000, the research firm said.

AWS’s business has also been growing. In the first quarter of 2013, AWS and other non-retail business accounted for 5 percent of Amazon’s revenue, up from 3.2 percent from 2011, Netcraft reported.

And Amazon has been increasing the number of services it provides: in 2012, 159 new services and features were released, Netcraft said.

The research firm also noted that Northern Virginia, the geographic nexus of the federal government and its IT services providers, is one of the largest markets for Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service, which offers on-demand virtual computer instances by the hour.

Together with Northern Ireland, the two regions account for three-quarters of all EC2 usage measured by Netcraft.

On yet another front, in 2011, Amazon launched GovCloud, cloud services aimed for more sensitive applications that might require additional security and compliance with U.S. regulations.

Netcraft said that as of May 2013, it found that only 27 Web-facing servers were associated with GovCloud.

Some of those computers power the National Institutes of Health’s Global Rare Disease Patient Registry and Data Depository, Netcraft said, as well as GovDashboard, a software-as-a-service offering for setting up data dashboards.

Posted by Paul McCloskey on Jun 10, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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