Telecommunications giant AT&T announced a cloud-based storage solution designed to meet the security requirements of federal government agencies.
The multitenant, community cloud offering has the same features, policies, capabilities and EMC Atmos technology as AT&T's commercial cloud storage offering but adds further security measures, including storage towers that are physically separated from other users' towers in the data center.
"As is well-known, the security standards for federal government agencies are exceedingly high," Chris Smith, vice president of technology for AT&T, told eWEEK. "As a result, any offering to the federal sector needs to lead with security. That is, in this sector, security is not a benefit or a plus—it's the central consideration."
Smith noted that with any cloud architecture, the efficiencies come from reduced infrastructure, hardware and operations cost, and pricing for STaaS (storage as a service) for the government will be offered in a tiered model.
"This is a dedicated infrastructure for government-only agencies and data. The federal agencies get the advantage of a community infrastructure to drive lower costs," he explained. "What's significant about the AT&T STaaS offering for government is that it does not forgo security on any level—truly a best-of-both-worlds approach."
Additional features include a separate logical cloud for government data, which means government customer data will not co-exist with commercial data, and a separate cloud portal partition for government agencies.
In addition, all government agency customers and their authorized users are assigned RSA hard tokens for two-factor authentication.
"I think it comes down to this—we are not simply providing a cloud platform in a data center. We are integrating the AT&T network with the cloud platform to deliver the best solution in terms of end-to-end security, performance and reliability," he said. "This is our differentiation relative to the competition."
A recent survey of federal IT leaders conducted by MeriTalk sheds light on both the appetite for cloud conversion in the federal sector and the challenges agencies face regarding the logistics of such a move.
While the survey found the federal government could save $18.9 billion annually by migrating services and applications to the cloud, only 41 percent of respondents said their agency is considering the cloud as part of their overall IT strategy.
Additionally, 51 percent said they use the cloud only for a limited number of specific applications, and more than half of the feds gave their agency a "C" or below on progress toward the cloud.