Amazon unveils cloud tailored for government agencies

AWS GovCloud is a government-only cloud that meets specific security, compliance requirements

Amazon Web Services has unveiled a cloud infrastructure designed for government agencies and contractors that want to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud.

AWS GovCloud is a government-only cloud that complies with specific regulatory and compliance requirements.

Previously, government agencies with data subject to compliance regulations such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which governs how organizations manage and store defense-related data, were unable to process and store data that the federal government mandated be accessible only by American citizens in the cloud, Amazon officials said.

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AWS GovCloud is physically and logically accessible by U.S. citizens only, so government agencies can now manage more heavily regulated data in a secure environment while remaining compliant with strict federal requirements, the officials said.

GovCloud offers the same high level of security as other AWS cloud services, including the Federal Information Security Management security controls, Federal Information Processing 140-2 compliant endpoints, SAS-70, International Standards Organization 27001, and Payment Card Data Security Standard Level 1. AWS also provides an environment that enables agencies to comply with Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act regulations.

Amazon Web Services resources deployed from GovCloud such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon Simple Storage Service and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud are available on-demand, and agencies pay only for what they use, Amazon officials said.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which has used Amazon Web Services for a few years, is one of the first agencies to use cloud computing for daily operations, said Tomas Soderstrom, chief technology officer at the Office of the CIO.

“As we move more 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,” Soderstrom said.

“In March of 2010, the U.S. Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board became the first governmentwide agency to migrate to a cloud-based technology infrastructure when it moved to AWS,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of Global Public Sector at Amazon Web Services.

In one budget cycle alone, the Recovery and Accountability Board was able to save $750,000 by using AWS, Carlson said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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