DOD To Transfer Secret Data To Amazon’s Secret Cloud

Eric Lieberman | Associate Editor

The U.S. Department of Defense is set to start transferring top-secret data to Amazon’s secret cloud storage platform after a military command awarded the tech giant a large contract.

“This is a significant benefit to the warfighter,” Amazon said in a press release, “as it allows the most sensitive mission workloads to benefit from the innovation and agility of cloud and also simplifies training for DoD’s IT professionals, as training on AWS will help the DoD take advantage of the cloud across all data classification levels.”

Microsoft had protested the private-public agreement for a long time, arguing that the DOD — specifically the U.S. Transportation Command, which is in charge of moving equipment and troops around the world — shouldn’t just consider only one company’s services.

The federal military arm, which is based out of Belleville, Ill., as part of the Scott Air Force base, chose Amazon Web Services (AWS), particularly its “Secret Region,” through a sole-source decision, meaning it granted the critical contract seemingly without giving competitors much of an opportunity. Microsoft ultimately withdrew its objection bid on March 8.

“The AWS Secret Region is designed and built to meet the regulatory and compliance requirements of the DoD,” Amazon wrote in a press release. “We are the only Cloud Service Provider accredited to address the full range of DoD data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret.”

AWS Secret Region was apparently the only viable option, according to Amazon, because “it can operate workloads up to the Secret U.S. security classification level,” and other cloud technology providers allegedly don’t meet federal requirements.

The DOD revealed earlier in March preliminary plans for creating a comprehensive cloud infrastructure for the whole department, while outlining how it expects to consider all competition.

Both Microsoft and Amazon are believed to be the top contenders for that cloud contract, which is worth $10 billion over the next 10 years. Known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud procurement, the program would endow a tech company with an exclusive agreement. The ultimately chosen contractor will first be given non-classified information, and then eventually tasked with storing more sensitive materials, according to MeriTalk. (RELATED: Why Is Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt Technically Serving In The Department Of Defense?)

“This is a full and open competition using FAR Part 12 for commercial technology,” Navy Cmdr. Patrick Evans, who is a press officer for the Pentagon, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The department is not dictating which or how teams formulate.”

When asked if there are other similar pending initiatives for updating the military’s technical infrastructure, or using more advanced technology for personnel or logistics purposes, Evans said it would be inappropriate to speculate, but pointed to recent comments made by Jay Gibson, DOD’s chief management officer.

“We are well aware we need to better utilize the private sector and its tremendous innovation, competition, and resources, and the JEDI program represents our continued movement in this direction,” Gibson said during DOD’s JEDI Industry Day. “Leveraging the commercial cloud is one IT area that we believe will achieve operational, financial and security benefits, of which the JEDI cloud is a great example.”

Amazon’s propulsion into the military arena may be further indication that the tech company is thinking of choosing the greater Washington D.C. area for its second headquarters location — an imminent and highly consequential decision. The Pentagon is situated in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. proper, as are many other agencies and departments under the larger umbrella of the DOD. The adjacent or not-so-far areas of Maryland are also home to military and intelligence divisions like the NSA, United States Cyber Command, and the Army Research Laboratory, among many others. (RELATED: Amazon Pays A Visit To DC Area, Another Good Sign It May Be The Choice For HQ2)

Amazon declined to comment on the record following TheDCNF’s inquiry, but did point to its respective aforementioned press releases. Microsoft did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment in time of publication, but the article will be updated if or when they do so.

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