AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Back to Basics: Cloud 101 for Government

Government organizations use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to address their unique challenges, requirements, and missions. We listen to our customers then innovate and deliver technology that helps them solve problems faster, adapt to changing environments, deal with sudden demand, and adhere to the highest security standards.

With AWS, government organizations can rapidly prototype, trying several architectures in parallel, allowing them to more quickly evaluate their options and move to full deployment for new programs and systems.

For example, the U.S. Digital Service team at VA started as a small team, iteratively building out features on Vets.gov. “We were blazing the trail at VA because no one had connected the VA network to the commercial cloud before. Our goal is to allow teams within VA to use modern technologies and practices,” said Alex Loehr, Deputy CTO at VA. “We were able to show how the cloud brings cost savings, flexibility, and speed. Working through VA to get AWS approved has allowed other teams to see the opportunities and possibilities with the cloud.”

What is the cloud?

The AWS Cloud provides a broad set of infrastructure services, such as computing power, storage options, networking and databases, delivered as a utility: on-demand, available in seconds, with pay-as-you-go pricing.

The AWS Cloud infrastructure is built around Regions and Availability Zones (AZs). AWS Regions provide multiple, physically separated and isolated Availability Zones, which are connected with low-latency, high -throughput, and highly redundant networking. These Availability Zones offer AWS customers an easier and more effective way to design and operate applications and databases, making them more highly available, fault tolerant, and scalable than traditional single datacenter infrastructures or multi-datacenter infrastructures.

Wherever you are in the world or whatever your mission, the cloud can help you move more quickly to solve problems.

Benefits of the cloud

Just like the U.S. Digital Service team at VA, government leaders want to spend more time and resources on their core missions, not on routine IT infrastructure. That is one of the reasons why they turn to the cloud.

Bringing it back to the basics, the AWS Cloud provides:

  • Cost Savings: AWS offers low, pay-as-you-go pricing with no up-front expenses or long-term commitments. We are able to build and manage a global infrastructure at scale, and pass the cost saving benefits onto you in the form of lower prices. With the efficiencies of our scale and expertise, we have been able to lower our prices on 15 different occasions over the past four years. Visit the Economics Center to learn more.
  • Agility and Instant Elasticity: AWS provides a massive global cloud infrastructure that allows you to quickly innovate, experiment, and iterate. Instead of waiting weeks or months for hardware, you can instantly deploy new applications, instantly scale up as your workload grows, and instantly scale down based on demand. Whether you need one virtual server or thousands, whether you need them for a few hours or 24/7, you still only pay for what you use. Visit the Architecture Center to learn more.
  • Flexibility: AWS is a language and operating system agnostic platform. You choose the development platform or programming model that makes the most sense for your mission. You can choose which services you use, one or several, and choose how you use them. This flexibility allows you to focus on innovation, not infrastructure. Download the AWS Overview Whitepaper.
  • Security: Experts recognize that security in the cloud is better than it is with on-premises infrastructure. Broad security certification and accreditation, data encryption at rest and in transit, hardware security modules and strong physical security all contribute to a more secure way to manage your organization’s IT infrastructure. Read more about cloud security built for government missions.

With tens of thousands of public sector customers using AWS, we understand the requirements of US government agencies to balance economy and agility with security, compliance, and reliability. In every instance, we have been among the first to solve government compliance challenges involving cloud computing and have consistently helped our customers navigate procurement and policy issues related to adoption of cloud computing.

Explore how customers like NOAA, GSA, U.S Department of State, U.S Navy, and NGA are leveraging AWS cloud products and solutions to build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability, and reliability.