According to a report in Federal Computer Week (FCW), the CIA has agreed to a cloud computing contract with Amazon Web Services to build a private cloud infrastructure. Spread over 10 years, the $600 million deal would help the CIA keep up with technologies such as big data in a cost-effective manner not possible under previous cloud efforts.
FCW states that neither Amazon or the CIA would confirm the existence of the contract, or comment on the matter. It was however hinted that the way the agency procures software will change, as well as how it uses big-data analytics. Amazon recently launched its Redshift data warehouse service in the cloud , starting in northern Virginia. Amazon Web Services also lists a number of certifications and accreditations for its infrastructure, including: FISMA, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, SOC 1/SSAE 16/ISAE 3402, and HIPAA. The AWS GovCloud is a region designed for US Government agencies, and works with a range of system integrators and independent software vendors.
Directly supporting the Federal Cloud First strategy, the CIA would be an excellent reference case for Amazon to entice other agencies to its GovCloud service. IT decisions made by the CIA follow the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise strategy, which suggests other intelligence agencies would benefit through shared information from a private cloud created in the Amazon-CIA deal. Dave Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office, told FCW “he was unfamiliar with the CIA-Amazon deal, but stated it would make sense – especially given spending cuts across the board at most agencies.”
In 2011 CIA CTO Gus Hunt spoke at the AWS Gov Summit 2011 event, and listed a key technology enabler for the agency as – “an ultra-high performance data environment that enables CIA missions to acquire, federate, and position and securely exploit huge volumes of data.” FCW reports that last month at an event Mr. Hunt was quoted by Reuters as saying, “Think Amazon – that model really works”, regarding purchasing software services on a ‘metered’ basis.