As the June 5 deadline for cloud service providers to assess their solutions against the government’s baseline security standards arrives, vendors are scrambling to secure their offerings to agencies.
The deadline arrives approximately two years after the inception of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, known as FedRAMP. Thus far, many of cloud computing’s heaviest hitters have achieved FedRAMP-compliant solutions through three various routes.
Cloud services companies -- as well as the agencies they service -- face scrutiny from inspectors general and the Office of Management and Budget if they miss the deadline. As a result, there’s been significant activity in the last few months and weeks. A slew of vendors have various infrastructure-, platform- and software-as-a-service offerings in the FedRAMP pipeline, and a few have sought the expertise of companies that have already achieved compliance.
Two software offerings, EconSys’ FHR Navigator and Concurrent Technologies Corporation’s Unclassified Remote Hosted Desktops, recently leveraged Autonomic Resources’ FedRAMP-compliant ARC-P infrastructure offering (as well as the collective experience of its security team), earning an authority to operate under FedRAMP.
Autonomic Resources has capitalized on the sudden increase in interest around FedRAMP, putting its status as a pioneer in federal cloud computing to use by offering a FedRAMP Express, a sort of “short-cut to compliance” for unauthorized cloud vendors. FedRAMP Express allows vendors to essentially piggy-back off ARC-P’s infrastructure-as-a-service offering, allowing vendors to make use of its security controls while reducing the time it takes to achieve compliance. Autonomic Resources achieved the first authority to operate under FedRAMP in December 2012 and the company later became the first to achieve compliance under additional controls required for operation within the Defense Department.
“We saw the demand coming in -- companies asking us for help and knowing they would be out of compliance otherwise -- and right now we’re working with four other companies to do the same thing [as EconSys and CTC],” said John Keese, President and CEO of Autonomic Resources.
Despite the deadline, cloud service providers will likely have a few more months to target FedRAMP before oversight bodies begin to seriously enforce compliance, according to Maria Horton, CEO of EmeSec, a FedRAMP-accredited third-party assessment organization.
The deadline for accreditation, combined with changes to FedRAMP’s baseline standards, likely means enforcement will wait until fall.
“I can’t imagine any enforcement will occur right away,” Horton said. “Over the next three months through the end of the fiscal year, it’ll be kind of a slow walk where as long as you’re in the process of making positive movement, you’re moving toward certification. In fiscal 2015, beginning Oct. 1, [National Institute of Standards and Technology SP 800-53 Rev. 4] is out, and we’ll see investment ramp up for those [cloud service providers] that know they need to make revenue in the 2015 calendar. Folks will be preparing. Their livelihood depends on it.”