Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, August 13, 2022

Virtustream, Future EMC Unit, Gains U.S. Cloud Approval 

Add Virtustream Inc., the cloud services and software provider acquired in May by EMC Corp., to the growing list of potential U.S. government cloud vendors.

Washington-based Virtustream said Wednesday (June 10) it has gained provisional authority to supply cloud services to federal agencies under the Federal Risk and Management Program, or FedRAMP. The certification means vendors have provisional authority to compete to offer cloud services to some federal agencies.

Specifically, the company's infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings were deemed by a third-party government auditor to have achieved the necessary level of security to comply with FedRAMP requirements. Hence, civilian U.S. agencies can now migrate and operate "critical workloads" to Virtustream's IaaS cloud infrastructure.

Cloud security has never been more critical for U.S. civilian agencies in the aftermath of last week's suspected Chinese hack of U.S. government personnel records maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Security experts said this week they suspect Beijing is sweeping up data on Chinese living in the U.S. to determine their contacts with U.S. officials. The hack also appears to have targeted personnel with security clearances who must report contact with foreign nationals. That data was thought to be readily accessible once hackers gained access to OPM's database.

Moreover, the hack appeared to be so sophisticated that encrypting the personnel data may not have prevented the breach, security experts said.

So far, 18 U.S. cloud providers have gained provisional authority under FedRAMP to provide federal agencies with cloud services ranging from infrastructure-, software- and platform-as-a-service. See the list here.

IT security specialist Coalfire Systems, which performs cyber-security audits for FedRAMP and other federal IT programs, handled the assessment of Virtustream's IaaS platform. FedRAMP officially approved Virtustream's IaaS cloud services model on June 5.

Virtustream said its xStream cloud package would be available as software, an appliance or as a managed service. It targets hybrid cloud deployments. The company said its patented technology supports multiple hypervisors, a key requirement as enterprises shift to hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Federal cloud approval comes less than a month after storage leader EMC Corp. announced it would acquire Virtustream in a deal valued at approximately $1.2 billion.

The Virtustream acquisition is the latest move by EMC to transition from a traditional storage vendor to a full-service provider of hybrid cloud infrastructure and services supplier via its “Federation of businesses” strategy. The company said Virtustream’s cloud software and IaaS products would be delivered through its Federation partners that include VMware. Virtustream would operate as a separate EMC Federation unit, the company said.

With Virtustream gaining FedRAMP certification, EMC has now positioned itself to become a supplier of hybrid cloud services for civilian federal agencies.

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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