Amazon Launches AWS GovCloud for the U.S. Government

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a new dedicated cloud offering for the U.S. government, known as AWS GovCloud. The new service is compliant with strict government regulations.

Amazon Web Services has announced AWS GovCloud, a new AWS Region designed to enable U.S. government agencies to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements.

Previously, government agencies with data subject to compliance regulations such as the ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), which governs how organizations manage and store defense-related data, were unable to process and store data in the cloud that the federal government mandated be accessible only by U.S. persons, AWS officials said.

However, because AWS GovCloud is physically and logically accessible by U.S. persons only, government agencies can now manage more heavily regulated data in AWS while remaining compliant with strict federal requirement, AWS officials said.

Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon Web Services, introduced the new government cloud service at the 2011 NASA IT Summit on Aug. 16 in San Francisco.

The new Region offers the same high level of security as other AWS Regions and supports existing AWS security controls and certifications such as the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), FIPS 140-2 compliant end points, SAS-70, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS Level 1. AWS also provides an environment that enables agencies to comply with HIPAA regulations, the company said.

AWS resources deployed from AWS GovCloud such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) are available on-demand and agencies pay only for what they use, enabling the U.S. government to benefit from the flexibility, scalability and low pay-as-you-go pricing of AWS. To get started using AWS GovCloud, visit

"Just as we are early explorers of outer space, JPL have been early explorers of the cloud computing space," said Tomas Soderstrom, chief technology officer in the Office of the CIO at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in a statement. "We've leveraged AWS in our missions for a few years now and were the first to use cloud computing for daily operations. 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. This implements the JPL CIO, Jim Rinaldi's, vision of provisioning instead of procuring hardware. As we move more workloads into the cloud, we look forward to leveraging ITAR compliant clouds, such as the new AWS GovCloud for our compliance-dependent projects so we can continue to look to the cloud first for even more missions."

"In March of 2010, the U.S. Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board became the first government-wide agency to migrate to a cloud-based technology infrastructure when it moved to AWS," said Teresa Carlson, vice president of Global Public Sector at Amazon Web Services, in a statement. "In one budget cycle alone, the Recovery and Accountability board was able to save $750,000 by leveraging AWS. Today, over 100 government agencies are taking advantage of AWS and we're excited to continue working with agencies as they implement the Federal Cloud First policy to become more efficient, agile, and innovative through more effective use of technology infrastructure. AWS GovCloud is the next step in that evolution."

To learn more about how U.S. government agencies are leveraging Amazon Web Services, visit

Meanwhile, for its part, Microsoft launched a government-focused cloud service of its own in 2010. At the eighth annual Microsoft U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit in February 2010, Microsoft unveiled a number of new enhancements and certifications for the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). The company also launched a new dedicated government cloud offering based on the BPOS.

"Microsoft is the first and only cloud provider to offer this level of protection and security for governments," said Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft Online at the time of that announcement. "We were able to achieve this industry first thanks to our experience providing dedicated cloud services for the past five years." Markezich is now corporate vice president of Microsoft's U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group.