Amazon Web Services (AWS) successfully won the opportunity to provide a classified version of the to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) back in 2013. The $600 million deal was closed in October of that year. This came after much contest and an appeal from competitor, IBM.
Present day, the CIA cloud platform is live, bringing the agency up to speed with cloud developments. Adaption and usage of the cloud may have occurred late for the CIA. This is due to hesitancies relating to security and information sharing across the platform.
Yet, this late entry may have provided more time for cloud providers to enhance and exact their services to meet the high-level security needs. With the cloud, agencies may use the scalable infrastructure, paying for only what it consumes. The CIA has a thick firewall in place within its commercial cloud.
Doug Wolfe, the CIA Chief Information Officer, elaborates on the importance of cloud computing by saying, “Technology has advanced so much over the last 20 years that now we’re in a position where IT is becoming completely critical to how we get our jobs done and, in some cases, changing the way we do our mission.”
AWS proved it has attained “final operational capability,” as stated by Wolfe. This comes after nearly 18 months of work on the Commercial Cloud Services. This network is limited to 17 US intelligence agencies. Its services are geared to improve and enhance existing cloud architecture. It does this by making clouds accessible across the intelligence community.
On what philosophy has been a guide for Wolfe in his position as CIO, he says, “My office came up with three foundational values that I feel strongly about as fundamental things CIO must do for the Agency: First, Making sure the systems are available. Second, Security and ensuring proper protections are in place. Third, Fast and efficient customer service. When I first got this job these were the three things I concluded as okay, these are the big deals the CIO needs to do.”
After the cloud has been live since last August, the intelligence community is reported to be satisfied with the new cloud computing infrastructure. Cloud security manager for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Office of the CIO Jason Hess states that the adoption of C2S has created more consistent security across intelligence agency networks. Its architecture has also been described as “much more familiar to developers” than the CIA’s legacy systems.