Amazon Web Services and the CIA have brought online the private cloud the provider has built for all 17 agencies of the intelligence community, Defense One reported, citing an anonymous source.
Amazon had to fight for the 10-year $600 million contract in court last year, after competitor IBM challenged the award. Government cloud is a big opportunity for technology providers, since all government agencies are under a White House directive to maximize use of cloud services.
The CIA contract is a variety of Infrastructure-as-a-Service offerings, including compute, storage and analytics. Agencies will access services on-demand and pay for what they use.
AWS has been getting most of the federal IaaS deals, Brian Burns, director at Agile Defense, which does system integration work and cloud consulting for federal agencies, told us in an earlier interview. The company owes this success to its status as “the Kleenex brand” for cloud, he explained.
Amazon has fitted out a data center on the west coast specifically to serve government clients. The facility hosts an AWS region called GovCloud, which is isolated from non-government customers, satisfies numerous security standards and can only be accessed by U.S. persons, physically and virtually.
This doesn’t mean U.S. agencies only use GovCloud. Many use the US-East region, according to the AWS website.
Investment in a separate data center for this subset of customers is justified by the size of the opportunity.
The government’s 2015 budget for cloud services is $3 billion, according to an Office of Management and Budget official’s presentation slides for a recent conference. About half of it will be spent on Software-as-a-Service; about 20 percent on Platform-as-a-Service; and the rest on IaaS.
While IBM is a sizable competitor, Burns said VMware was really the cloud provider AWS should be worrying about. VMware has not yet received the FedRAMP certification (a government security standard for all cloud services), but when it does, its vCloud Government Service is offering instant integration of cloud with customers’ existing in-house VMware environments.
VMware is a trusted vendor with government clients. That, combined with how easy it will reportedly be for agencies to stand up hybrid cloud environments with VMware, will make for a substantial challenge to Amazon in this space, Burns said.