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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 01/11/2011

Treasury moves to the cloud

By Hayley Tsukayama

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is moving four existing sites into the Amazon Web Services cloud and will work with the company to host a new agency Web site.

The agency has awarded its contract to build the site to Smartronix which will support the launch of the new web site and
migrate,,, and to Amazon Web Services.

A Tuesday report from Information Week said Treasury will be the first cabinet-level agency to use Amazon Web Services to host a Web site.

The U.S. government is trying to move a lot of its information into cloud-based computing, and a recent policy initiative from U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra gave all federal agencies three months to pick three services to shift to Web-based computing.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 11, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
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The cloud vs no cloud is just a continuation of the old debate about mainframes vs workstations. One should be careful about putting one's eggs in someone else's basket. The 'cloud' is absolutely less secure than internal storage of sensitive data. Putting government function privacy information 'out there' is dumb and just invites abuse. Vivek Kundra should backtrack quickly after discussing some of the legal questions with Justice Dept folks and people with common sense.

Posted by: jdrd58 | January 11, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

This is a VERY bad idea from a security standpoint. Are we going to have every hacker in world have unlimited data theft time ?

This is scary. How about I R S files for instance,sensitive international treasury transactions ? CRAZY!!!!!

Posted by: peterroach | January 11, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Here is an example of who you should trust.
Uncle Sam vs. any corporation?

I will trust Uncle Sam over any corporation on Earth for my medical records, my health care and my taxes.

Posted by: dummy4peace | January 11, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that it is pretty nuts and I think Vivek Kundra has a screw loose on this one in the way it has been gone about. I spoke with IT people at three agencies late last year with regard to this and moving some services to the cloud. The most worrisome part of each discussion was that despite these people supplying strategic IT input into their agencies, not one could answer "Why" these services should be moved other than that it was mandated.

For some information I might argue that someone such as Amazon might offer better security than is currently in place, but that in itself is not an acceptable answer.

Equally some of the services I was told would be moving and that are coming to pass will be more expensive over a three year period than what is currently in place or for replacement license fees.

The main driver seems to be virtualization services and moving existing apps to these providers, but why aren't the Government investing in the data centers they currently own, that are secure and virtualizing servers themselves ?.

Posted by: scarlettbueller | January 11, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Security is a concern, but saying that the cloud is "absolutely" less secure than internal storage is unsubstantiated and naive. Traditional federal IT solutions typically are loaded with vulnerabilities too. You don't have comparative data to substantiate that claim.

But, security is a concern and as far as I know, Amazon's cloud (Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and web hosting services) are not accredited/authorized under the GSA FedRAMP process. Treasury will have to take this solution through a very expensive authorization (i.e. C&A) process. Microsoft and Google have cloud solutions that are accredited/authorized under GSA FedRAMP, but not Amazon.

Posted by: RufusPlimpton | January 11, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Two questions:

1. Has Amazon provided any guarantees of no intrusion or data loss?

2. Does the contract hold Amazon financially responsible for any data losses or stolen data?

If this is such a great idea, why not.

Posted by: Ex-Fed | January 11, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Very good point by scarlettbueller. Just another example of the Obama administration wasting taxpayer $$$. Can't wait for 2012 so we can say bye bye to the whole lot.

Posted by: MemberOfGenX | January 11, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Most government data is NOT sensitive and should be moved to cloud servers. It saves money and will make applications more easily accessible to government employees.

Posted by: RobRoy1 | January 11, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Treasury does not have sensitive data on their public website. This is not where they keep IRS records folks, be real.

You can still achieve security in a cloud environemnt. This is infrastructure, not software, as a service. You have complete control of the OS and all threat boundaries.

Moving public websites to the cloud makes sense. It's public information and large commercial companies know how to do this more cost effectively than the government.

Posted by: CloudX | January 12, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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