If you’re not in the loop, the CIA previously awarded a contract to Amazon to provide it with cloud computing services. IBM wasn’t too impressed, promptly stepped up and filed a complaint to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) stating that the CIA failed to properly evaluate prices and waived a contract requirement just for Amazon. The GAO sided with IBM and recommended that the spy agency re-open negotiations with other companies that offered the same services as Amazon.
Unfortunately, the GAO later ruled that the CIA-Amazon partnership will push forward as the cloud service provider offers a “superior technical solution,” one that other service providers cannot comply with.
Superior Technical Solution
According to the GAO ruling, Amazon will be building cloud services inside CIA data centers. “The contractor generally was to provide a copy of its existing public cloud (modified where necessary) to be installed on government premises,” the GAO ruling explains.
Here’s something funny: Amazon, as well as Google, had this notion that cloud should be something deliverable to anyone across the public internet while IBM and HP wanted the cloud to be private. IBM offered cloud services by building a service inside your own data center. One might think that the CIA would go for IBM since it offers a private cloud, but instead it turned its nose up at that offer and chose Amazon. No doubt the retail giant did more than bend over backwards to secure this contract, since it now has no qualms with offering its own private cloud.
If any cloud service provider starts working with the spy agency, consumers and enterprise customers alike will view that platform as being as secure as it’s possible to be, simply because if its good enough for the CIA, well, it must be good! By tying up a deal with the CIA, Amazon can use this seal of trust to sell products and services to other companies as well as other government agencies.
Aside from security, the CIA contract is probably the largest government cloud contract going, and would mean a huge deal for any provider that’s able to handle it.
Amazon refused to comment on the CIA contract – most likely because its been prohibited from doing so – but did say that nothing will change its services and that it already has services catering for government agencies.
“We can tell you that GovCloud and FinQloud are examples of ‘community clouds’ where we are delivering members-only implementations of AWS to groups of organizations who share specific requirements,” the statement reads.