Clouds in Washington DC

Dell launches secure cloud tailored for U.S. agencies

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Dell expects to submit Dell Cloud's soon for FedRAMP certification. Dell had said it was in the process of earning certification.

Dell has joined the ranks of companies offering cloud services and infrastructures tailored to meet the stringent security and regulatory requirements of government agencies.

The IT and services company has launched the Dell Cloud for U.S. Government, offering agencies a variety of options to create on-premise, dedicated private and hybrid clouds as well as secure, multi-tenant cloud environments, Dell officials said in a release.

The Dell cloud infrastructure is designed to meet the security and compliance requirements of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) as well as those outlined in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-53, the Defense Department 8500 guidelines for Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and DOD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP) environments.

“Dell has designed this solution specifically to meet FedRAMP requirements and the dedicated environments based on that reference architecture can be designed to meet other certifications and requirements [agencies] may need,” a Dell spokesperson said. “We plan to submit this solution for FedRAMP certification in the near future and look forward to having it certified in a matter of months following that.”

FedRAMP provides a standard approach for security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring of cloud products and services. FedRAMP uses a “do once, use many times” framework that is expected to reduce the cost, time and staff required to conduct redundant agency security assessments of cloud solutions.

To date, four companies have received FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board’s provisional authorization -- the most rigorous approval -- which involves a thorough review by chief information officers of the General Services Administration and Homeland Security and Defense departments. The companies are Autonomic Resources, CGI Federal, Hewlett Packard and Lockheed Martin. 

Last month, the Health and Human Services Department granted two Amazon Web Services offerings -- GovCloud and US East/West -- an agency Authority to Operate (ATO) using FedRAMP requirements. The Amazon cloud services received the ATO after documenting compliance with FedRAMP security controls in several HHS projects.

Microsoft and Google also offer government-specific clouds for Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps that meet security requirements for FISMA or comply with the International Traffic in Arms Regulation. Other government cloud providers include Computer Sciences Corp., Harris Corp., IBM and Verizon Terremark.

Dell officials are attempting to differentiate the company’s government cloud by providing a range of options, including infrastructure as a service, software as a service and platform as a service hosted in a Dell data center as well as the dedicated, on-premise solution that lets agencies be their own cloud provider. Some cloud providers may offer only one or two of the service options.

The Dell solution lets organizations take advantage of automated workflow, provisioning, rapid scalability and metered pricing, Dell officials said. Dell provides a compliance framework to easily manage multiple ATOs and security requirements. This automated approach provides the required security control templates, forms and documentation required by the federal government to obtain and manage an ATO.

Dell has built in more than 275 security controls, helping to ensure customer data and services are secure and isolated while providing a continuous monitoring environment for improved network security, company officials said.

For connectivity to the Dell cloud, the company offers secure encrypted virtual private networking and Multi-Protocol Label Switching options compliant with all federal standards. Once connected, agency users have full administrative and management access to their services, including root access for Linux and local administrator rights for Microsoft Windows. Additionally, users of the military’s Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network and The Secret Internet Protocol Router Network can securely connect into the Dell Cloud, officials said.

The reference architecture for Dell Cloud for U.S. Government is available for immediate purchase by U.S. government agencies, Dell officials said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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