What the CIA Cloud Does and Doesn't Tell Us

James Staten

Much has been written about the US Government Central Intelligence Agency's award of its private cloud business to Amazon Web Services and the subsequent protest and government ruling on this award, but much of the coverage leaves out a few pertinent and key facts. Let's look at the key questions being debated about this proposed contract:

Q: Is this a private cloud? AWS said it doesn't believe in private clouds.

A: Yes, despite AWS' protests to the contrary, this is a private cloud. According to the documents that have thus far been made public from this proposal, the CIA is looking for a cloud service (an Infrastructure as a Service) offered on a dedicated set of resources isolated to a specific customer and deployed on CIA-owned resources from within a government owned and operated facility. 

Q: Would this be AWS' first private cloud?

A: Yes and no. Yes, it would be the first implementation of the AWS services atop a customer-owned infrastructure and facility asset base. But no, it would not be the first time AWS has delivered an isolated environment offering its services. AWS's GovCloud is also a private cloud for the greater US Government. FedCloud is operated from an AWS-owned facility on AWS owned assets.

Q: Is this a community cloud? What's the difference between that and a private cloud?

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