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10/10/2012
02:23 PM
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Amazon's Share Of Government Cloud Computing 'Accelerating'

As Amazon announces new services for government customers, it says the 1,800 government and education customers that now use Amazon Web Services prove "rapid" adoption of its cloud computing products.



Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers
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Slideshow: Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers
As government agencies continue to adopt cloud computing, Amazon is among those reaping the rewards: the company announced Wednesday that more than 300 government agencies and 1,500 educational institutions now use Amazon Web Services.

According to Amazon, the 1,800-plus customers represent its "rapid growth in the public sector."

"Government agencies and education institutions are rapidly accelerating their adoption of the AWS Cloud," Teresa Carlson, VP of Amazon Web Services' public sector business, said in a statement.

Amazon's growth isn't surprising. State and local governments have been moving quickly to cloud services as a way to save money. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and his predecessor Vivek Kundra have been championing the adoption of cloud computing at the federal level to cut costs and improve government IT services with a Cloud First mandate, which requires federal agencies to consider cloud computing as part of most new information technology acquisitions.

[ Related: 5 Ways Amazon Web Services Protects Cloud Data. ]

The announcement of continued growth in Amazon's public sector business came as the company also announced new features for government customers at Amazon's AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The new features are for AWS GovCloud, a dedicated community cloud for U.S. government customers that meets strict federal arms control regulations.

Likely chief among the new features is the high-performance computing capability made available through Amazon's Compute Cluster Instances, which has already been used for things like molecular and genomic modeling and analysis, and which can leverage big data technologies such as MapReduce. Even before launching a government version of this service, government agencies have used Amazon for supercomputing: The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, for example, has used Amazon to simulate a gas turbine and related airflow dynamics.

Among the other new offerings are elastic load balancing, auto scaling, CloudWatch alarms, the Simple Notification Service, and the Simple Queue Service. Amazon says that the addition of these features should make it easier for government customers to scale their cloud services and to ensure those services' reliability. "With the new services and features added today in AWS GovCloud, public sector customers now have greater capabilities to rapidly design, build, and deploy high-performance applications," Carlson said.

A wide array of government agencies, from NASA to Douglas County, Nebraska, and from the University of Oxford to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are now among the customers of Amazon Web Services. Some of the recent services hosted with Amazon include CDC BioSense 2.0, a service that collects information from health facilities as part of an effort to improve official response to diseases and healthcare trends.

More than half of federal agencies are saving money with cloud computing, but security, compatibility, and skills present huge problems, according to our survey. Also in the Cloud Business Case issue of InformationWeek Government: President Obama's record on IT strategy is long on vision but short on results. (Free registration required.)

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