Who will win the CIA's cloud business-- IBM or Amazon?
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June 8, 2013
Amazon Web Services 'sort of' confirmed to the media that it's getting ready to build a very large cloud for the CIA.
But meanwhile, IBM is still in the running, after the company's protest at the choice of Amazon was recognized by the U.S.
Government Accountability Office.
Amazon Web Services confirms the existence of a contract between it and the Central Intelligence Agency.
AWS then reserved several barbed comments for IBM's protest.
The statement in full follows.
Providing true cloud computing services to the intelligence community requires a transformative approach with superior technology.
The CIA selected AWS based on its superior technological platform which will allow the Agency to rapidly innovate while delivering
the confidence and security assurance needed for mission-critical systems. The Agency conducted a very detailed, thorough procurement
that took many months to award. We look forward to a fast resolution of the two issues raised by the GAO so the Agency can move forward
with this important contract.
Big Blue attempted to get the contract as well, and when it lost out to AWS it lodged protests with the government. Federal and
government contracts are a huge business for IBM, and considered home turf by the company.
The AWS statement follows the U.S. Government Accountability Office ruling on Thursday that the CIA had failed to properly evaluate
the cloud prices, and recommend that the CIA reopen negotiations with the two companies, according to Bloomberg.
Though the contract could now go to IBM after another evaluation, the anointment of Amazon by the CIA in the first case represents
a sea change in attitudes towards IT procurement, one that has been brewing on both sides of the Atlantic under various G-Cloud
programs for years, but one that had not – until now – seen any government spend serious tax payer's money on the non-legacy cloud.
The decision by the CIA to use Amazon Web Services' technology caps off an evolution by the company from a provider of low-cost
utility computing services into a fleshed-out enterprise provider-– one whose rise poses a grave threat to legacy OEMs.
In just seven years, Amazon Web Services has developed from a simple offering of storage (S3) and compute (EC2) into a multi-headed
IT services mammoth that legacy OEMs such as Microsoft and upstart tech titans such as Google have been forced to compete with.
Getting a CIA contract puts Amazon alongside IBM and a few other corporations with close ties to the U.S. government, such as
Cisco and HP as well.
Details of the size of the contract, which was alleged by IT gov mag FCW to be $600 million and the scope of the deal, were unavailable
at this time.
However, one thing is for certain-– the news will be met with skepticism by executives at VMware, who just three short months
ago characterized Amazon as just another bookseller, and said it was VMware's destiny to own the corporate workload now and forever.
Whether or not AWS gets the contract is at this point immaterial. The fact that the CIA's original choice was Amazon and not IBM,
and not the other way around, is what matters.
The news of the contract follows a week packed of revelations about the alleged links between nine gigantic tech companies and
the U.S. National Security Agency via a scheme called PRISM.
But although Amazon wasn't one of the nine named companies, Dropbox was indicated to be coming onboard – and Dropbox uses AWS.
In other IT news
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