Q

Will Amazon Web Services' FedRAMP certification boost public cloud use?

In this Ask The Expert, Forrester analyst Ed Ferrara discusses the potential impact of AWS' FedRAMP certification on public cloud use.

This is a step in the right direction, as it will legitimize the cloud in a number of ways. The U.S. federal government...

is the largest procurer of IT services and technology globally. The federal government works at a very slow pace -- the whole controversy over the veterans administration technology issues are an example of that. But when they do get rolling along, they do some pretty interesting things.

Ed FerraraEd Ferrara

This is an example of the federal government wanting to streamline the procurement of cloud services for all of its agencies -- that's what this is all about. It's also about the fact that Amazon is the No. 1 or No. 2 cloud provider in the world, having achieved FedRAMP certification is a great statement for the industry about its security abilities. Amazon is able to say, "Not only can we offer you these infrastructures with these kinds of economies of scale, time to market, standard network access, ease of implementation, elasticity --  the five NIST criteria that define a cloud offering -- not only can we offer you all those goodies that are part of cloud, [but] we can also make sure that it's secure."

Now, there's debate over how secure FedRAMP really is. This is actually a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" kind of problem. You get three engineers in a room and they'll argue this all day. I know: I actually used to be one of the engineers in those types of conversations. But I think this is the right step forward, and I think that, as such, more senior leaders will look at cloud as a viable platform. Does more need to be done? Absolutely. Is this an endpoint? Not at all, but it is an inflection point in the adoption curve, in the sense that it moves cloud much, much faster to the mainstream.

As told to Karen Goulart, senior features writer.

This was last published in September 2013

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Does Amazon Web Services' FedRAMP certification make you more inclined to trust in the security of public cloud services?
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I had no concerns about AWS security until now. My question: What did Amazon need to promise to give to NSA to be awarded this certification and the government contracts to follow???
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I'm a little surprised that they didn't need to wait longer after their wide-spread outages. Does make me wonder what they promised in return (but I am the type of conspiracy theorist who was not surprised by Mr. Snowden's findings).
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