Report: Amazon Signs $600M Cloud Infrastructure Deal With CIA


The Central Intelligence Agency has signed a 10-year, $600 million cloud computing deal with Amazon Web Services, Federal Computer Week reported Tuesday.

FCW, quoting unnamed sources, said Amazon is building private cloud infrastructure for the CIA that the agency will use to keep pace with big data and other emerging technologies. FCW speculated that the CIA wants a public cloud-like infrastructure running inside its firewall to ensure classified data doesn't leak.

Amazon is top dog in infrastructure-as-a-service and is actively looking to expand its influence to the public sector. But many government agencies are terrified of the public cloud, primarily because of the implications of sensitive data leakage.

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"If this deal is true, it's going to raise the bar even higher for Amazon's competitors," David Blankenhorn, chief cloud technologist at DLT, a Herndon, Va.-based government VAR, told CRN. "If Amazon puts together a cloud for the intelligence community, that's going to set a new high water mark for other vendors to hit."

Amazon isn't confirming that the deal exists, and a CIA spokesperson told FCW it generally "does not publicly disclose details of our contracts, the identities of our contractors, the contract values or the scope of work."

Such a deal would be a major coup for Amazon and a blow to VMware, which dominates the private cloud market and is trying to extend its reach to public cloud by showcasing its security and management chops. VMware says its forthcoming vCloud Hybrid Service will let customers move on-premise workloads to public cloud infrastructure that it manages and operate, running in partners' data centers.

DLT, which began partnering with Amazon just over a year ago, is helping Amazon expand its reach in the public sector, according to Blankenhorn. DLT hands first- and second-level call support for Amazon Web Services and is helping the unit deal with the contract-driven aspects of doing business with the federal government, he said.

Partnering with Amazon has required DLT to change some of its business processes, including updating its back-end systems to handle five decimal places for pricing and altering its approach to system design and architecture with customers, Blankenhorn said.

"There hasn't been a part of our business -- sales, contracting, order management, technical, marketing and IT -- that hasn't felt some level of change with the partnership," he told CRN.

While Amazon is new to the channel, it has shown an impressive consideration for the needs of partners and is quick to change aspects of its program when needed, Blankenhorn said.

"They learn very quickly -- they iterate their programs as quickly as their product offerings, and they're very open to feedback," he said.

PUBLISHED MARCH 20, 2013