CIA's Amazon cloud goes live - firewalled and private

CIA's Amazon cloud goes live - firewalled and private

Summary: Anonymous sources are reporting that the Amazon Web Services-provided cloud to be managed by the CIA has gone live, on schedule.


According to a report from Defense One, the Amazon Web Services private cloud being built for the CIA has gone live. The $600 million contract, which required a lawsuit to resolve Amazon as the winner, will eventually serve all 17 intelligence agencies that make up the core of the US intelligence apparatus.

The goal of the cloud is to provide on-demand computing and analytic services to the intelligence community, with the intelligence agencies able to order and pay for the services, on-demand, from the CIA via this Amazon private cloud and the NSA from their own cloud that launched in 2013.

While neither the CIA nor Amazon has officially announced the launch or confirmed this story, which Defense One attributed to anonymous sources, it does fit in the timeline, earlier publicly announced by the CIA, which had the cloud going operational in summer 2014.

It’s important to note that the entire cloud sits behind the intelligence community firewall. While it uses the technologies developed for Amazon’s public cloud infrastructure, the entire service is firewalled and private.

The CIA is convinced that the cloud will be secure, and according to an article from Government Executive, a senior CIA official was quoted as saying that “The security in the IC cloud will be as safe or safer than our current datacenters.” This is despite the fact that the cloud is being designed not just as a CIA datacenter, but to provide services to 17 different agencies.

While the cloud will address many of the technical and financial issues that slow the adoption of cutting edge technology in the intelligence community, it will also eventually have the benefit of simplifying the sharing of data between the 17 agencies.

Currently, these agencies for the most part store data in their own secure fiefdoms, with no easy mechanism for that data to be shared appropriately. Whether this is a positive or a negative will depend on your own view of what the government should be doing with the data it collects.

Topics: Cloud, Data Centers, Government US

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Firewalled and private?! HA!!

    No such thing as firewalled and private anymore!
    • like all the contracts with Microsoft

      do not forget that this contract is like all the contracts with Microsoft: we will give you money through a "contract", you will give us access to all your customers' data
      Jiří Pavelec
  • Hoo boy - seems like an open invitation....

    or at least an "attraction" for hackers and / or crackers to exercise or hone their skills... Just sayin
  • Regarding data sharing....

    and the comment: "Whether this is a positive or a negative will depend on your own view of what the government should be doing with the data it collects." I may be in the minority, but I have never considered any Internet activity to be private, nor unlikely to be seen by someone else. So, accordingly, I tend to have no sympathy for all the "privacy advocates" activity - my position is that we have connected of our own free will, and no one EVER made any kind of privacy claim regarding our activity - the concept of privacy came from unreasonable wishes / speculation that whatever activity is undertaken should be confidential. I suggest such expectation was established from pure ignorance.
  • The CIA should manage its own cloud.

    I have no objections to Amazon building it for them, but spook agencies should be very reluctant to trust management of their computing infrastructure to outsiders (remember Snowden).

    Amazon can drum up new business from the private sector; neither it nor any other private firm should be encouraged to use the US Government as a cash cow.
    John L. Ries
    • Just spook agencies?

      Why not the entirety of the U.S. federal government, including the DHS, DOD, DOE, DOJ, FBI, IRS and FDA, as examples.

      And why not State and municipal governments as well?

      P.S. Don't forget about Robert P. Hanson and Jonathon J. Pollard. Neither were contractors.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • 17 other agencies

        He did mention 17 other agencies will be sharing this private cloud with them. That should cover most of the known 3 letter agencies out there in Gov. land.
        Denny Fry
        • 17 is not even close

          Here's the listing of the fifteen (15) executive departments:

          And here's the listing of all of the independent federal agencies:

          The majority of these departments and independent agencies will not have access to the Amazon Cloud discussed in this article.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Amazon

    Do not order any thing from them they have mess up my orders a lot and they will not let you return anything it comes from a 3 party and they will tell you they have to email them and if they relay they will email you what a lie