recommended reading

Amazon launches gov-only cloud

Amazon Web Services is launching a new government-only cloud storage service that will require employees to be American citizens, the company announced Tuesday.

That restriction will open up the cloud provider's services to more sensitive data from agencies that must comply with strict data-handling regulations such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Amazon said.

The ITAR regulations prohibit government agencies from sharing information with non-Americans about weapons and other items banned from export on the U.S. munitions list.

Microsoft's Office365 offers a similar option for American-only handling of data in a subsection of its cloud, but the product is geared specifically to Microsoft Office functions, such as word processing, email and PowerPoints, rather than to more complex computer operations.

Amazon's new "GovCloud" offers the same basic security features as other portions of its public cloud, the company said, and also allows agencies to comply with other regulations governing treatment of federal data, such as the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act, the company said.

Computer clouds essentially are large banks of off-site computer servers that can operate much closer to full capacity than standard servers by rapidly repacking data as one customer surges in usage and another one dips. Cloud customers pay for data storage based on use, as with electricity or another utility, rather than with a set fee.

Federal officials have established a cloud-first policy for new information technology endeavors and estimate the government can move a quarter of it's IT infrastructure to the cloud by 2015, saving about $5 billion annually.

Federal agencies have historically been hesitant to move sensitive data and services to the cloud because of security concerns over housing their data off-site.

Several agencies are already housing their public websites -- such as a newly revamped -- and other data that doesn't require enhanced security inside Amazon's public EC2 cloud.

The EC2 cloud's highest-profile government resident is, the $18 million website that tracks federal stimulus spending.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.