AWS launches Secret region for US intelligence customers

Want to know a secret? Amazon Web Services (AWS) is beefing up its government capability by announcing the AWS Secret Region, which can operate workloads up to the highest level of security classification.

The move, claims AWS, makes it the only commercial cloud provider to offer regions serving workloads across the full range of data classifications, from ‘unclassified’, to ‘sensitive’, to ‘secret’, and then finally to ‘top secret’.

John Edwards, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) CIO, said that the Secret region is a ‘key component of the Intel Community’s multi-fabric cloud strategy’, while Teresa Carlson, vice president for AWS worldwide public sector, added it was an ‘important milestone’.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community can now execute their missions with a common set of tools, a constant flow of the latest technology and the flexibility to rapidly scale with the mission,” said Carlson.

The region will complement the work Amazon already does with the CIA. Regular readers of this publication will remember the protracted legal action between AWS and IBM in 2013 with the final decision going to AWS in October of that year. Speaking at an industry event in early 2015 Doug Wolfe, the then-CIO at the CIA, confirmed AWS’ cloud had attained “final operational capability”, and praised the company for getting the project up and running in less than 18 months.

“Ultimately, this capability allows more agency collaboration, helps get critical information to decision makers faster, and enables an increase in our nation’s security,” added Carlson.

Last month, Microsoft announced the launch of new Azure government capabilities for classified mission-critical workloads, called Azure Government Secret. “Azure Government is the mission-critical cloud, providing more than 7,000 federal, state, and local customers the exclusivity, highest compliance and security, hybrid flexibility, and commercial-grade innovation they need to better meet citizen expectations,” wrote Tom Keane, Microsoft Azure head of global infrastructure.