One woman’s journey to expand AWS kingdom into the public sector | #WomenInTech


When it comes to the digital transformation, the public sector is not lagging in effort. Innovation and investment in the cloud are strategic initiatives for this market, including government agencies at all levels, non-profit organizations, regulatory associations and education. Amazon Web Services alone serves 2,300 government, 7,000 education and 22,000 nonprofit organizations worldwide.

Boasting clients such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency, AWS is not only aiding government with its mandate to move to the cloud, but the cloud provider is facilitating innovation for the public good. Additionally, organizations such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Association have improved system performance by a reported 400 percent using AWS cloud, and the American Heart Association is collaborating with the cloud provider to advance heart disease research.

Teresa Carlson, VP of the worldwide public Sector at Amazon Web Services Inc., is the company’s secret weapon leading to the success AWS has seen in the public sector. Carlson is responsible for driving the public sector growth and developing global partner relationships. She also has a commitment to education and creating the next-generation of computer scientists. This week, theCUBE*, from the SiliconANGLE Media team features Teresa Carlson in our Women in Tech column. (*Disclosure below)

While at AWS re:Invent 2016 event in Las Vegas, NV, Carlson joined John Furrier (@furrier) and Stu Miniman (@stu), co-hosts of theCUBE, to talk about the public sector’s migration to the AWS cloud and the future possibilities that lie ahead.

Top security clearance

There are many in the public sector adopting the cloud, and they are turning to the companies that have approval from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. After obtaining FedRAMP approval in June 2016, along with competitors Microsoft Azure and a smaller CSRA, the AWS GovCloud supports agencies to meet compliance requirements. This cloud is host to extremely sensitive data and regulated workloads.

However, AWS had “the big win” when the Central Intelligence Agency awarded the provider a $600 million contract to provide cloud services and data storage to the CIA and the broader intelligence community. Carlson spoke about the closed-door event at the conference with the intelligence community. “Let me just say we had a lot of people there, and they are growing like crazy and adopting the cloud. Mission-critical solutions, applications and workloads … and they are moving fast,” she said.

Some of the fastest-growing trends in the public sector’s use of technology is linked to the Internet of Things. Many AWS public sector verticals, such as justice, transportation and health, are finding value in AWS IoT solutions.

Carlson noted that agencies at all levels have data pouring in from wearable body cameras, drones of every type, video cameras, sensors on light poles and transportation vehicles to name a few. “By 2020 they think there are 30 billion data points coming in from IoT devices. If you think about that, a lot of that is coming out of the public sector,” noted Carlson.

She went on to say that because it is serverless computing and inexpensive, the public sector is quickly building applications for smart cities that allow for mapping and viewing where vast areas of the population are gathering.

The collection and management of such data remains a concern for the public sector, and in many countries data sovereignty is top of mind for leaders. Carlson explained that AWS has the experience based on the U.S. model that the company developed using standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the FedRAMP model.

When asked if public sector clients are very concerned about moving sensitive data to the cloud, Carlson described the AWS culture as transparent and reactive to the needs of each customer. Concerns are directly addressed and verified to provide a comfort level for agencies to move data to the cloud.

What’s more important is that every customer gets to take advantage of the lessons AWS learns by working with the intelligence community. “Yes, they care. Yes, they are concerned, but we have an answer, a model and jumpstart programs to help them,” Carlson asserted.

Of those customers in highly regulated data industries, Carlson clarified that theirs is critical information that cannot fail because markets or institutions can fail. The give and take of AWS service teams offer the ability to make changes in real time. Carlson specified that this is the beauty of the cloud.

“You don’t have to wait two years to cycle that feature service. You’re like, ‘let’s make these changes now!’ and that is what cloud offers you. Experimentation, failing fast, recovering and then moving out,” she illustrated.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of AWS re:Invent. (*Disclosure: AWS and other companies sponsor some AWS re:Invent segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither AWS nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo by SiliconANGLE