Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon.com's cloud services division, has claimed that more than 300 government agencies and 1,500 education institutions in the US are now using AWS for a wide variety of uses including "big data" analytics, high-performance computing applications, web and collaboration applications, archiving and storage, and disaster relief.
Teresa Carlson, vice-president of worldwide public sector, AWS, attributed the rate of adoption to such federal government initiatives as the US Federal Cloud First mandate. "With the new services and features added today in AWS GovCloud, public-sector customers now have greater capabilities to rapidly design, build and deploy high-performance applications with AWS's scalable, secure, low-cost platform," she said.
AWS GovCloud is a US-specific iteration of AWS designed to be compliant with US data processing regulations, including the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) requirements. It addresses a common complaint of cloud computing that subscribers typically do not know where their data is being processed and stored, which could contravene certain regulations in certain countries.
US government users of AWS include the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Recovery and Accountability Board, the US Department of the Treasury, the US Department of State, the US Department of Agriculture, the space agency NASA, the State of Washington, Douglas County in Nebraska and Multnomah County in Oregon.
One particular US government application showcased by AWS is the CDC's BioSense 2.0, a public health monitoring service running in AWS GovCloud. It collects data from more than 2,000 health facilities to help health officials respond to diseases quickly and to identify trends in public health.
"BioSense is the first Department of Health and Human Services programme hosted completely in the cloud, in alignment with the White House cloud initiative," said Taha Kass-Hout, director, Division of Informatics Solutions and Operations at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He added: "Implementation of BioSense and public health surveillance practice in AWS GovCloud resulted in significant savings in overhead costs to CDC and state and local health jurisdictions."
AWS GovCloud consolidates a number of Amazon web services for US public sector use, including Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), EC2 Cluster Compute instances, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon CloudWatch and Amazon CloudWatch alarms.