Amazon launches cloud service for U.S. government agencies

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Online retailer Amazon has announced a new division to their cloud computing service strictly for government agencies and contractors. Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud is designed to comply with strict federal regulations on sensitive workloads.

Previously, government agencies were unable to store data on the cloud that was subject to specific regulations, such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which governs how defense-related data is managed and stored. Material under this specific regulation is only accessible by US persons.

Amazon claims that AWS GovCloud is physically and logically accessible by US persons only, thus allowing branches of the government to now use cloud resources. The new region is said to offer the same high level of security as other AWS divisions and supports existing security controls and certifications.

Several high-profile clients are already using AWS for their mass storage needs. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the US Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board were both named in the press release.

“In March of 2010, the US Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board became the first government-wide agency to migrate to a cloud-based technology infrastructure when it moved Recovery.gov to AWS. In one budget cycle alone, the Recovery and Accountability board was able to save $750,000 by leveraging AWS,” said Teresa Carlson, VP of Global Public Sector, Amazon Web Services. “Today, over 100 government agencies are taking advantage of AWS and we’re excited to continue working with agencies as they implement the Federal Cloud First policy to become more efficient, agile, and innovative through more effective use of technology infrastructure.”

Amazon Web Services (AWS) came to fruition in 2006 after the company realized that their massive servers were heavily underutilized. AWS is an online cloud computing service based on utility computing which is a metered service that charges the customer for only the amount of resources they need and doesn’t require a contract.

Up to this point, little has been released about the internal workings of AWS. We do know that AWS consists of two major components. S3 sells data storage while EC2 sells computing power. Amazon claims to have hundreds of thousands of customers already enrolled in the program, spanning more than 190 countries worldwide.

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