Amazon announced Monday that its Amazon Web Services cloud can now be used for government business, having received a nod from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.
FedRAMP’s assessment means that separate agencies do not have to run their own checks of the same cloud framework. The three-year certification lets Amazon boast that its security and other systems are reliable enough to allow the company’s cloud to store sensitive but unclassified government data.
The Department of Health and Human Services sponsored Amazon’s assessment through the FedRAMP process, but others can now easily implement the company’s cloud services, said Teresa Carlson, vice president of the worldwide public sector at Amazon.
Frank Baitman, chief information officer at HHS, said that the department’s sponsorship of Amazon provides a template for other agencies and companies going through the approval process.
“It’s the beginning of a process that will make it possible for the government to provide services in the way the American public is served best,” Baitman said.
Having more companies go through the process, he said, allows the government to “move at Internet speed — which we haven’t done a particularly good job of in the past.”
The government introduced a “cloud first” policy in 2010, telling agencies to adopt cloud solutions whenever practical. Several agencies have been using cloud services for some data storage, including cloud-based e-mail.
The FedRAMP program, which went into effect last year, has been evaluating applications for several other cloud companies. In March, researcher Jennifer Sakole wrote in The Washington Post that about 70 companies are in the pipeline for approval.
Cloud computing can offer cost-cutting advantages for government agencies by centralizing their processes or giving employees greater access to their work files when out of the office. But, particularly with government data, questions about the security and stability of cloud systems are also top considerations . FedRAMP was tasked with creating baseline standards for agencies to use as they evaluate which cloud providers fit their needs.
Carlson said that Amazon expects this nod from the federal government could help the company make its case to the larger business community, especially those that work with the government.
“Many commercial companies will look to this federal government process,” she said.
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