In a move that's sure to spook conspiracy buffs everywhere, a new report has emerged that puts the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) within arm's reach of signing a deal with Amazon, valued at up to $600 million, over the course of the next 10 years.
But it's what the CIA and Amazon will be doing together that will raise a few eyebrows, though for different reasons across the spectrum.
According to the reports, the CIA is looking to work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build what's called a "private cloud," which will in turn be packed with a set of technologies like big data, which is itself rapidly increasing in popularity among businesses.
The reports are a bit vague, and many details are left out – this is the CIA we're talking about, after all –but there are several interesting questions that appear in the wake of such an action.
First, Amazon Web Services built a name for itself as a source of public cloud, not private. That's an odd switch for Amazon Web Services to go, from being what amounts to a hosting service for cloud services – public clouds are generally in hosted facilities with shared hardware – to a provider of cloud computing technology on a particular user's data center, which is what "private cloud" is generally understood as.
Amazon was reportedly seen, not so long ago, coming out against the private cloud concept, though it has been seen offering the Virtual Private Cloud, which uses Amazon hardware but adds an extra security layer.
Second, for Amazon to enter the private cloud business would give pause to several major names already engaged in the field, like Citrix and VMware, as well as IBM, Rackspace and HP. The latter three, of which were recently spotted saying their clouds are not only more reliable than Amazon's, but more secure.
That's not an assessment the CIA shares, however, and getting the CIA for a customer is no mean feat.
Notwithstanding the unusual implications this has, what with putting one of the biggest government agencies and intelligence gathering arms nearby to where people buy things every day, moves that have the potential to seriously destabilize a market are always worth watching out for. Amazon suddenly slipping into private cloud would be a destabilizing force of likely impressive magnitude.
Amazon has a lot of force behind it, and seeing AWS branch out into a whole new category of service would bring that force into play.
The government's involvement is one thing, but Amazon's potential shift in the market is another. This is a very big move indeed, and a recipe for a real shake-up – the kind many would find difficult to ignore.
Contributing TechZone360 Writer
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