Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Saturday, February 27, 2021
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Verizon Gains Federal Cloud Approval 

Verizon said this week its Enterprise Solutions unit has joined a growing list of vendors gaining the authority to provide cloud services to federal agencies.

Verizon joins Amazon Web Services and others in gaining operational authority under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP. The certification permits Verizon Enterprise Solutions to initially provide cloud services for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Verizon said the FedRAMP certification would pave the way for other federal agencies to shift mission critical workloads to the cloud.

The giant carrier's Enterprise Cloud: Federal Edition was approved under FedRAMP guidelines as an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud offering. FedRAMP cloud and security standards are set by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Verizon cloud platform will initially be made available to HHS and later to other federal agencies in either multitenant or dedicated configurations. The federal certification means the Verizon cloud service meets security, reliability, and flexibility requirements for mission critical federal workloads.

Cloud services for HHS and other federal agencies will be delivered from federal datacenters in Culpeper, Virginia, about 90 minutes south of Washington, and another secure facility in Miami. The "hardened" datacenters include redundant power, security, and air handling.

HHS, Verizon's first cloud customer, encountered major snafus last year in launching a web site related to the Affordable Care Act. The Healthcare.gov site has also experience security breaches, including a hack earlier this past summer when a server used to test code was mistakenly connected to the Internet.

A recent cloud market study released by Verizon found that government agencies are among the estimated 65 percent of enterprises rolling cloud services into their IT infrastructure. Verizon also reported that 71 percent of its cloud customers were running mission-critical workloads on the cloud, up from 60 percent in 2013.

Larger cloud providers are among the first to receive the FedRAMP seal of approval. Amazon Web Services, which is providing cloud services to the CIA and other intelligence agencies, gained Defense Department cloud certification in April. AWS is essentially providing the CIA with its own bulletproof implementation of the AWS public cloud in a private form.

Database software giant Oracle announced it had gained provisional authority in May under FedRAMP following a review by the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration. GSA acts as the government's landlord.

Other large cloud vendors are also shifting their focus to the public sector as federal agencies move to deploy cloud-based computing and storage networks. In May, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Service's unit rolled out a managed private cloud for the public sector  as part of its HP Helion cloud infrastructure portfolio.

Other federal cloud providers under the FedRAMP program include Akamai, AT&T, CGI Federal, Lockheed Martin, and Microsoft.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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