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.
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 first published in September 2013