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.