AWS Prepping Second GovCloud Region In Eastern U.S.

Amazon Web Services will expand the secured and compliant infrastructure it offers customers in the public sector and highly regulated industries, the company said Tuesday, by opening a second data center to host its GovCloud sometime next year.

The Eastern U.S. region, planned to come online in 2018, will complement the only currently existing GovCloud facility, which is in the Northwest. The new stand-alone data center should reduce latency for many customers, especially federal agencies based in Washington D.C., while adding the ability to implement redundancy across regions and more options for disaster recovery, according to AWS partners.

GovCloud, launched in 2011, is vetted to meet strict controls for handling data along several regulatory standards.

[Related: AWS Introduces Government Competency To Partner Program]

"Government agencies and the IT contractors that serve them were early adopters of AWS GovCloud," blogged Jeff Barr, AWS' chief evangelist, "as were companies in regulated industries."

"These organizations are able to enjoy the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of public cloud while benefiting from the isolation and data protection offered by a region designed and built to meet their regulatory needs and to help them to meet their compliance requirements," Barr said.

GovCloud limits AWS' storage and processing features to only those meeting strict standards, such as International Traffic in Arms (ITAR), which stipulates logical and physical access to data is limited to people in the United States. It also implements FedRAMP High and other compliance standards required by the FBI and Department of Defense.

Amazon's investment in extending highly compliant infrastructure to a second dedicated data center is an important signal to federal, state and local government agencies, said Venkatapathi Puvvada, president of Unisys Federal, a Blue Bell, Pa.-based IT services provider.

"This means that the high pace of cloud innovation that AWS is bringing to market will now be fully available in the GovCloud environment," Puvvada told CRN.

The new facility will likely encourage government agencies to accelerate plans to migrate mission-critical applications, especially those that require redundancy to comply with strict regulations, he said.

AWS partners, like Unisys, will be able to drive business by offering migration plans to seize on that trend while developing their own cloud-native applications in a secure and resilient environment, Puvvada added.

Federal agencies that rely on GovCloud include the Department of Veterans Affairs, NASA JPL and the Air Force, according to AWS. The existing West Coast facility also hosts offerings from Software-as-a-Service companies and solution providers like Splunk, GitHub and Motorola.

Solodev, an Orlando, Fla.-based AWS partner, uses GovCloud to host its platform for building and managing enterprise-scale websites.

Shawn Moore, the company's CTO, told CRN a major benefit of GovCloud is the speed and ease it enables for achieving certifications like FedRAMP.

The most-obvious benefit to partners and customers of adding another facility will be latency reduction, he said. The new region will be close to East Coast population centers and the federal government, which is ramping its public cloud spend dramatically.

"The fact Amazon is opening a separate data center shows the tide has turned and government is coming to Amazon en masse," he said.

Another important factor that should drive greater adoption, and thus opportunities for partners, is the introduction of redundancy to GovCloud. Much of the federal government is already using AWS, Moore said, but some regulated workloads are so important they need a separate facility for backup.  

"People are going to start replicating their data across both regions to avoid disaster related outages," he said. 

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