Assuring Governments Cloud Compliance and Security Needs

GovLoop's recent guide, How Cloud is Reinventing Government, explores the how cloud is helping agencies unlock innovation and improve service delivery. The report includes four government case studies, best practices and insights from industry leaders. Below is an excerpt from our guide. Read the full report here.

Faced with a unique set of challenges and requirements, public sector leaders are exploring different ways to share data and information safely and securely through the cloud.

In response to this growing market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) created AWS GovCloud (US). The AWS GovCloud allows agencies to move sensitive workloads and still achieve complex regulatory and compliance requirements for cloud deployment. AWS helps government agencies fully leverage the opportunities of the cloud, especially the ability to create a shared pool of resources and use economies of scale for cost savings.

All AWS administration, both logical and physical, is limited to US persons access within the United States. Additionally, all AWS GovCloud account holders are limited to US persons. All data is stored in the U.S. and is hosted in multiple availability zones for high durability. “What this does is allow those agencies that have U.S. persons or other controlled unclassified information requirements to be able to operate [with cloud],” said C.J. Moses, general manager, Amazon Government Cloud Solutions.

AWS helps agencies comply with the requirements of FedRAMP and U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). AWS assures the compliance and security mandates for cloud adoption that government has demanded. Additionally, the AWS GovCloud (U.S.) Region is 100% carbon-free power.

One example of an organization that is using AWS GovCloud (US) is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC BioSense 2.0 program provides awareness of all health-related threats and supports responses across state, local and federal government. The CDC wanted to avoid purchasing expensive hardware and software to fulfill this complicated task, so to reduce costs, and leverage hardware and software on-demand, the CDC turned to a pay-per-use model with AWS. This has also facilitated on demand usage, and assured compliance and contains world-class security practices.

Drawing from his work with public sector clients, Moses provided us with some best practices on cloud computing:

  1. Design for failure and nothing will fail: “You have to take into account and design for failure. This is something that you could actually do in a brick and mortar traditional environment, but traditionally isn’t done as much [in a cloud environment]. The idea is that you’re always going to have hardware, or other types of failures happen – it’s just the law of averages. If you make the software and architect the environment in such a way to accept they will fail, you can continue to work around them.
  2. Decouple your components: “When moving to the cloud, ensure that you have the means to decouple the components of your architecture. My background includes 17 years with the U.S. federal government, and one of the things that I was regularly upset with is finding applications or architectures that were comingled in such a way that if you needed to change one thing, you had to start from scratch.”
  3. Implement elasticity: “A cloud environment gives you the ability to use additional resources in different locations, such that you’re able to design for failures. So end users aren’t ever affected by these failures, because you’ve architected your software and your implementation in such a way that you actually have the ability to work through that without them knowing.”
  4. Think parallel – use multi threading: Thinking about parallel processing helps you create repeatable processes and automate the cloud. When you must retrieve or store data, the cloud functions on parallel operations. To gain maximum efficiencies, using parallel processing is a best practice.
  5. Keep dynamic data closer to the compute and static data closer to the end-user: This is a best practice because by doing so, you can reduce latency by keeping your computing or processing close to data.

Moses’ insights provide clarity about the power of the cloud, and reveal how Amazon Web Services can help you deploy a safe and secure cloud-computing strategy.

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Amazon Web Services is a collection of remote computing services that together make up a cloud computing platform, offered over the Internet by Amazon.com. The most central and well-known of these services are Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3. Learn more here: http://aws.amazon.com/

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