Amazon is quietly pursuing the multi-billion dollar federal cloud computing market, intensifying an already fast accelerating sales and marketing effort by Google, Microsoft and a host of others.
According to the Seattle Business Journal, Amazon is making progress with federal agencies and is being included in a host of proposals.
It's a potentially huge market. According to the Business Journal, the federal government will spend $76 billion this year on IT. That includes $20 billion to pay for infrastructure.
Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra is leading a charge for the Obama administration to invest in cloud computing. This could represent any number of services, be it application hosting, test and development or for managing certain operations.
This is where Amazon may have sway. The company has the most experience of any cloud computing service provider. It is focusing on Amazon Web Services as the most profitable part of the business, exceeding annual e-commerce revenues.
The Seattle Business Journal cites one bid the company made with a Virginia-based IT Service company:
"In a sign of Amazon's interest in the federal cloud market, the company last year teamed with Apptis, the Chantilly, Va.-based government IT services company, to respond to a request for quotes (RFQ) put out by the General Services Administration. The GSA was seeking information on "Infrastructure-as-a-Service" offerings for the government, including cloud storage, virtual machines and cloud web hosting.
The GSA later canceled the RFQ, saying the cloud market had matured and it needed to make changes to the solicitation. The agency will put out a revised RFQ in the coming weeks. Amazon spokeswoman Kay Kinton called Apptis a "good partner" and said "we expect to keep working with them," but did not elaborate. She declined to talk about Amazon's plans for the new RFQ, saying the company hasn't seen it yet."
The Business Journal states that Amazon has an office in Washington, D.C. and has hired a former FBI officer with a background in computer security to help with developing relationships.
That's an interesting and important distinction. Amazon has to assure the federal government that its systems are safe. Security is the biggest challenge for federal agencies considering cloud computing. They are responsible for the personal data of U.S. citizens. To secure that data is the highest priority.
According to the Business Journal, Amazon works with NASA. But security issues have been a concern for the space agency. The agency spent seven months negotiating over such issues as audits.
In addition to its own efforts, other service providers are including Amazon in its bids.
The Business Journal:
"Synteractive, a D.C.-based IT firm that helped build the federal stimulus web site Recovery.gov, used Amazon Web Services to test and develop the site last summer. Evan Burfield, CEO of Synteractive, said Amazon made sense because the "very tight turnaround time" for the project -- 10 weeks -- left little room for provisioning computers.
Synteractive was a subcontractor to Smartronix, of Hollywood, Md., on the Recovery.gov project. The two companies are teaming again on a bid for work on Treasury Department websites, including FinancialStability.gov and MakingHomeAffordable.gov. Burfield said if they win the bid, they'll develop and run the sites on Amazon's cloud."
That's an advantage the major cloud service provider have in the market. The architectural scale of the major service providers gives customers a wide choice of potential services. Amazon and others can provide an a la carte service that customers can dip into when demand spikes or scale back when it ebbs. To provide that elastic level of service on the federal level is a task that only the largest service providers can provide.