Amazon Web Services “transformational” according to CIA
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Amazon Web Services “transformational” according to CIA

Tech titan Amazon’s cloud hosting platform has recently garnered praise from an unusual source: the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA is possibly America’s most famous intelligence agency, and it’s also an Amazon customer. Last Wednesday the agency’s top technology official, Sean Roche, spoke at an Amazon conference in Washington, and had high praise for the service: “it’s been nothing short of transformational. It has transformed our ability to build new capabilities.”

Amazon’s share price has increased by 47% so far this year

graph 2606 amazon

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

The CIA signed a $600 million contract with Amazon Web Services in 2013, and it seems pleased with the results. Roche said that it gave the agency an opportunity to reevaluate its systems and decide what was worth keeping, and what could be replaced by better alternatives: “you do not move to the cloud or buy new hardware so you can host legacy services.” The vote of confidence comes at a crucial time for Amazon. According to Bloomberg, the company is “considered to be the leading candidate for the Pentagon’s winner-takes-all competition to provide broad-based cloud services to the agency.”

While some of Amazon’s competitors are amongst the voices that opine giving the award to a single company risks stifling innovation and raising security risks, Roche thinks otherwise. Without dealing with any such criticisms directly, he said that the CIA “cannot be locked into proprietary data structures and proprietary databases” with “licensing agreements that make timeshare condos in Florida look good.”

The Pentagon has also offered a more straightforward argument for letting a single company provide the services for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI). It said that a single provider would be the best way of “rapidly delivering new capabilities” to American forces, and noted: “The expectation is that JEDI will be a preferred infrastructure hosting solution for DoD applications and that programs will need to defend decisions to invest in less capable or more costly solutions.”


Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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