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On the cusp of AWS re:Invent, the public cloud continues to transform the public sector

Amazon Web Services Inc. is deeply entrenched in the public sector. Over the past several years, it has invested deeply in supporting adoption of its public cloud services by noncommercial users around the world.

As the seventh annual re:Invent conference approaches, AWS’s public sector group is deepening its engagements with clients in the following noncommercial sectors:

  • Government agenciesMore than 2,000 public-sector customers worldwide now use AWS. The company has spent years helping US government agencies, such as the CIA and NASA, to evolve their information technology assets for the cloud computing era. AWS is rumored to be an odds-on favorite to win a $10 billion U.S. Department of Defense cloud computing contract. Late last year, AWS announced a new “secret region” for the US intelligent community that will serve government workloads across all data classifications in a cloud-based structure. Several months ago, AWS entered into a partnership with SAP National Security Services Inc., a subsidiary of enterprise software giant SAP SE, on a “highly secure” commercial cloud platform. In addition, AWS has taken steps to help less-developed nations digitally transform their public sector operations. Frequently, the focus is on utilities such as power, water, internet and telecommunications, as well as land planning and education. Frequently, these initiatives involve working with regulators to establish policies, set up procurement vehicles and institute educational programs to speed the adoption of cloud computing for public-sector digital transformation. Its range of smart-city projects continues to expand, now addressing use cases such as on-demand microtransit, multi-agency emergency response. In addition, AWS’ City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge asks cities what they are doing with AWS services and offers grants for innovative projects that will improve citizens’ lives.
  • Nonprofit organizations: Well-established nonprofits such as the American Heart Association have built important research and operational programs on AWS’ cloud computing services. Approximately 22,000 nonprofits now run on AWS. Through a partnership with TechSoup — a nonprofit network of organizations providing technical support and technological tools to other nonprofits — AWS provides free cloud-infrastructure grants to fledgling nonprofits. AWS has also become active in social entrepreneurship programs and initiatives that help startups get up and running with inexpensive cloud infrastructure. Nonprofit organization Project Lead The Way has joined forces with AWS to help foster a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers in computer science, engineering and biomedical studies. And the AWS Public Dataset Program covers the cost of storage for publicly available high-value cloud-optimized datasets for life sciences, environmental science, machine learning, multimedia, civic tech and cybersecurity communities.
  • Educational institutionsAWS Educate is a free program providing access to content from universities across the world and access to AWS credits to use toward its cloud services. This and AWS’ We Power Tech program offer free computer science training to anyone age 14 and up, regardless of location, sex, race or religion. Some of AWS’ recent work for social good includes the Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub at California Polytechnic State University, which develops technology for justice and public safety.

Going into re:Invent 2018, Wikibon expects AWS to focus on several key themes to address the issues that are spurring public sector to put more of their information technology assets and operational processes into public clouds:

  • Nations are placing strategic emphasis on cloud computing.
  • Governments are prioritizing digital transformation.
  • Public-sector agencies require enterprise-grade cloud services.

Since re:Invent 2017, AWS has addressed these requirements with a steady stream of strategic announcements, which have been covered extensively in SiliconANGLE and in Wikibon’s recent big-data market survey and other research studies.

A year ago, Teresa Carlson, AWS senior vice president of public sector, discussed these in her interview on theCUBE at re:Invent 2017. Here are some highlights:

  • Nations are placing strategic emphasis on cloud computing: “We are spending a lot of time going into countries around the world, helping [them] set a strategy for digital transformation. New jobs growth, new companies, economic development. How do they train and educate for a cloud-based workforce? [It’s] really fun to go in and tell governments, ‘Look, you really have to prepare your country for a digital transformation. And again, if you look at [what] Bahrain and … the U.K. have done, they are doing that and they are making a massive transformation around this.”
  • Governments are prioritizing digital transformation: “[Public sector agencies] want to move fast. In fact, in the U.S. government, the White House does have an entire initiative now on modernization. You’re seeing countries like the U.K. government go cloud-native. You saw the country of Bahrain, which is going all-in in the cloud and they’ve already established new policies and a cloud-first policy. If you look at groups like the intelligence community in the U.S. government, we just announced our ‘secret region’ and that allows them to have top-secret capabilities, secret, unclassified in our GovCloud. So they have capabilities across the entire spectrum of workloads. What they’ve always said to us and our other customers is, ‘Can we build cloud tools, can we build a cloud?’ Yes. ‘But can we innovate at the rate and speed you’re innovating?’ No, because we provide them innovation ahead of their demand.”
  • Public-sector agencies require enterprise-grade cloud agility: “[AWS’] GovCloud region, that was our first entree into doing something unique for government. That region has grown 185 percent every year since 2011 and we just announced a second region on the east coast for GovCloud, U.S. GovCloud. The interaction with our services team is amazing. Charlie Bell, who runs all of our services, we have a tight relationship, we talk to our government customers in these regions, understand their priorities, then we roll them out and it’s really that simple. They get the exact same thing in their classified regions as we give our other customers.”

Check out these interviews earlier this year with Carlson and others on theCUBE at AWS’ public sector headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

And to catch what AWS executives, partners and customers are saying now, get drill-downs on their forthcoming announcements and get insight into AWS’ roadmap, tune into theCUBE live Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 27-29.

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