The CIA isn't exactly a stranger to cloud computing. In fact, they've spent the past six years using a highly classified commercial cloud via Amazon Web Services. Now they're nearing the end of their agreement – a contract worth $600 million over a 10-year period – and the CIA is eying the mainstream commercial cloud for future applications.
A recent statement released by the CIA reads, in part: "Since that time, cloud computing has proven transformational for the IC (intelligence community) – increasing the speed at which new applications can be developed to support mission and improving the functionality and security of those applications."
In addition, their statement continues to announce their goal to "acquire through multiple vehicles" a commercial cloud platform that with software-as-a-service offerings. Cloud service providers who want to compete for the contract must already have a reputable presence in the commercial space and must meet the stringent governmental standards that are required to host top secret and highly classified information. As of right now, AWS is the only cloud provider to meet these demands.
The CIA's relationship with AWS has been so successful that insiders tout AWS' cloud as being even more secure than the CIA's own data repositories. AWS has even introduced numerous upgrades and improvements over the years to make their services even more reliable, secure, and efficient.
Andrew Hallman, deputy director for innovation with the CIA, spoke about some of the organization's recent breakthroughs by stating: "We have a major cloud provider and we have had a journey to cloud becoming very successful."
He continued his statement by saying: "The important thing is to look at what the future of cloud looks like—hybrid cloud architectures, multi-cloud architectures—and that, for us, the very important thing is making really wise decisions about how those architectures work together."
To that extent, the CIA has made it clear that they are interested in partnering with multiple vendors for their new project. Per an official statement, this move is "to increase access to innovation and reduce the disadvantages associated with using a single cloud service provider."
Although they didn't mention any specific disadvantages, it's clear that the CIA is moving away from having AWS as their sole cloud provider. Whether or not AWS will continue to serve the CIA remains to be seen, but it appears that they won't be doing it alone for much longer. Some of the top competitors include IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle, just to name a few.
IBM's federal general manager, Sam Gordy, tried to shed light on why so many enterprises are abandoning the model of relying on one service provider. He stated: "The world’s largest enterprises are moving to multi-cloud environments because of their security, flexibility and resilience."
While the CIA's latest contract is still in its infancy, the CIA hopes to award a contract by July 2021. For more information on the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, please visit their official government website at www.cia.gov. To find out more details on AWS (Amazon Web Services), please visit their official site at aws.amazon.com.
CIA Exploring Options in the Commercial Cloud
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