Amazon launches second region dedicated to ‘Top Secret’ government work

The Amazon Web Services office in Houston, Texas. (Wikimedia Commons/Tony Webster)

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Amazon Web Services has expanded its support of the federal government’s most classified work with the launch of a second “Top Secret” cloud region, the company announced Monday.

AWS’s Top Secret-West region will add to its existing top-secret capabilities supported by its Top Secret-East region based out of Northern Virginia since 2014. Like that first region, this one will also be air-gapped with multiple “availability zones” comprised of “discrete data centers with redundant power and networking.”

Together, the two sites will allow AWS’s defense, intelligence community and national security customers to “deploy multi-Region architectures to achieve the highest levels of resiliency and availability essential to their most critical national security missions,” Max Peterson, vice president of worldwide public sector for AWS, wrote in a blog post Monday.

The new site will also give users located away from Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metro area a new and potentially closer site to store their data, making for less latency. Amazon did not, however, say specifically where the new region is based, revealing only that it is 1,000 miles from the Top Secret-East region.

Peterson wrote that the launch of the new Top Secret region shows Amazon’s dedication to security and supporting organizations, like those in the defense and intelligence communities, that work with some of the nation’s most sensitive information.

“At AWS, security is our top priority,” he wrote. “AWS customers benefit from data centers and network architecture built to meet the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations. … Today, with the launch of AWS Top Secret-West, we continue our support for mission workloads that span the full range of U.S. government classifications.”

While Amazon is the clear frontrunner in terms of serving the federal government’s most sensitive mission sets at the Secret and Top Secret classification levels for several years now, other cloud providers like Microsoft have made progress, too. Microsoft announced in August that its Top Secret offering is generally available with multiple geographically separate regions.

Amazon’s launch of a second Top Secret region should support its cause for more upcoming work on some of the federal government’s most prominent cloud contracts. The company late last year won a spot on the intelligence community’s Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) contract, under which it will vie for task orders with other cloud giants like Microsoft, Google, IBM and Oracle to support the IC’s classified mission sets. Additionally, it’s been invited to bid on the Pentagon’s forthcoming Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), which, like C2E, will ask contractors to compete for task orders, often dealing with highly classified national security information.

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Amazon, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cloud, Department of Defense (DOD), intelligence community (IC), Max Peterson, Top Secret
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