On Tuesday, Amazon launched Amazon Web Services GovCloud, an overture to the recent push in the United States government toward reducing its substantial IT costs -- as well as a clear signal to competitors in the cloud-computing marketplace.
One of the chief features of the GovCloud that makes it potentially attractive to U. S. government use is GovCloud's compliance with ITAR, the U. S. State Department's International Traffic Arms Regulations. This set of rules, originally enacted in 1976, specifies (among other things) who can and cannot access files and systems that include "defense-related articles". ITAR is extremely specific about the definition of "U. S. persons" as well as what constitutes access -- to the extent that merely carrying a laptop across the border with ITAR-protected files can be grounds for prosecution.
In addition to ITAR, Amazon has taken steps to comply with federal regulations including the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS), among others. Both Google and Microsoft have been competing for the government customers; in April of this year Google was accused by Microsoft of falsely claiming FISMA certification for its Google Apps for Government, a charge chiefly based on a technicality that Google dismissed.
Some agencies of the U. S. government have already turned to Amazon for cloud services, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In a PC World article, Tomas Soderstrom, Chief Technology Officer, in the Office of the CIO at JPL is quoted as saying, "By working with cloud computing providers such as AWS, we gain the flexibility to move quickly, acquire IT resources on-demand and save money by paying only for the resources we use."
Another recent AWS user is the United States Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board, which is the first of a planned 15 government-wide agencies to replace significant physical resources with cloud services. In a single budget cycle, the savings claimed by the Recovery and Accountability Board in moving the Recovery.gov web site to AWS amounted to $750,000.
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To date, the most prominent agencies that Amazon's competitors have struck deals with include the USDA, who uses Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) Federal, and the General Services Administration (GSA), whose services are hosted by Google.
James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for IBG.com. With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at www.ibg.com. Green Monster USA offers renewable energy solutions from solar to the latest green technologies. Experience Green Monster today.