CIA lobby
The Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. Reuters

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is looking for a private contractor to provide cloud computing services., Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has emerged as a bidder for the $600 million deal versus a more traditional provider of tech services for U.S. intelligence operations: International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM).

Cloud computing, when information is stored across an interconnected network of servers with no centralized location, has become a more important part of how data is stored by all government agencies, and Amazon is a major provider of the infrastructure, having used it for years to sell books, apparel and just about any other retail product that can be delivered by mail.

"The federal government opportunity is enormous," Adam Selipsky, a vice president at Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud-computing unit, told the Wall Street Journal. "We believe that will be a very significant business for Amazon Web Services going forward."