By gaining clearance to host the most sensitive unclassified US Department of Defense data, Amazon Web Services has scored a first in the cloud computing industry. AWS had already been cleared to host level 1 and 2 information in March of this year. It can now host level 3-5 data.

The new clearance allows Amazon to host the bulk of the data that the Department of Defense handles, thereby giving the company a competitive advantage over rival providers. The only DoD data that can’t be handled by Amazon is level 6 classified data.

Teresa Carlson, AWS’ world vice president for the public sector, told NextGov, “In a nutshell, we’re very excited to announce we’ve received the DOD provisional ATO through impact levels 3-5 – we’re the first commercial cloud provider to achieve this. I think it highlights our continued commitment to being a leader in cloud computing. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for DOD to do what other groups have been doing.”

The AWS GovCloud is a region of the Amazon cloud service that is entirely dedicated for United States Government use. It is this region that can now be used by the Department of Defense and its contractors via a private connection, giving them the option of using the cloud for the first time. One of Amazon’s new customers is the Central Intelligence Agency.

Amazon was already one of three companies that had been given clearance to host data at levels 1 and 2. AWS and other cloud computing providers have been winning contracts across the civilian US Government. The additional security requirements of the Department of Defense meant that they had lagged behind the rest of the government in moving towards the cloud. AWS are allowing them to catch up.

The Department of Defense currently plans to introduce five pilots for hosting cloud data by this September. AWS is now well placed to be at the centre of this work.

Carlson hinted that level 6 might be next for Amazon, saying that their goal is to “meet every standard the federal government has for their data.”

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