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Does This Mean the CIA Might Soon Have Access to Your Amazon Wish List?

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All kidding aside, this has nothing to do with government prying. It’s just that the Central Intelligence Agency wants to award four-year contract worth up to $600 million “for commercial cloud services” to Amazon Web Services, part of the huge and growing Amazon.com family.

“Amazon Web Services offers a complete set of infrastructure and application services that enable you to run virtually everything in the cloud: from enterprise applications and big data projects to social games and mobile apps,” its website says.

In a portent of how much things have changed, the losing bidder: IBM.

The Government Accountability Office suggested Friday that the CIA rebid the contract because it gave Amazon an unfair edge in the contract-awarding process when it agreed that Amazon did not have to vet some software it was planning on using in the cloud it would create for the CIA.

IBM protested the award, saying it would have altered its bid if it had been able to operate under the same rules as Amazon. “It is a fundamental principle of government procurement that competition must be conducted on an equal basis,” said the GAO, which urged the CIA to recompete the contract. “Offerors must be treated equally and provided with a common basis for the preparation of their proposals.”

But it wasn’t a slam-dunk for IBM. The GAO rejected IBM’s claim that the CIA didn’t take seriously enough several “crashes” of Amazon’s cloud network, which could lead to CIA data being inaccessible.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory weighed in on that claim:

[Amazon] has experienced some outages, especially in their Virginia region. However, this has had no impact on JPL, and as a percentage of the overall availability, these outages are miniscule. All cloud vendors have outages. All private clouds and private data centers have outages. The difference is that we hear about them when they happen in a public cloud, such as [Amazon]. JPL operates mission critical services in the [Amazon] cloud and we have had 100% uptime since inception. To achieve this, we implement failover and elastic load balancing but it’s simple and inexpensive and very much worth it.

Take that, Big Blew.

If Amazon re-prevails, wonder if the agency will get free shipping?

Amazon notes that its cloud service is completely separate from the shopping service most of us use. “All kidding aside, this has nothing to do with government-prying front, rather it seems the Central Intelligence Agency wants to award four-year contract worth up to $600 million “for commercial cloud services” to Amazon Web Services, part of the huge and growing Amazon.com family.

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