Provisional authority to operate gives more federal agencies access to secure cloud-based services.

Patience Wait, Contributor

September 3, 2013

2 Min Read

5 Helpful Online Services From Uncle Sam

5 Helpful Online Services From Uncle Sam

5 Helpful Online Services From Uncle Sam (click image for larger view)

One of the world's largest cloud platforms, which Akamai Technologies operates on more than 137,000 servers in 87 countries, has become the first to receive provisional government-wide security approval.

Akamai Technologies has received a Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. FedRAMP is the government-wide program that standardizes security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services, a necessary requirement as federal agencies adopt the "cloud-first" strategy dictated by the Office of Management and Budget.

Until now, individual federal agencies have sponsored companies' cloud offerings receiving FedRAMP compliance status, as the Health and Human Services Department did with Amazon Web Services. Akamai is the first to get the rating applied government-wide.

[ Agency turns cell phones into cloud-like communication devices on the battlefield. Read more at DARPA Creates Cloud Using Smartphones. ]

"Prior approvals have been around unique solutions and a government-specific cloud that was built out," said Tom Ruff, Akamai's vice president for public sector. "But Akamai is leveraging its [existing] public cloud offering."

For Akamai, this means that the JAB -- comprised of the CIOs of the General Services Administration and departments of Defense and Homeland Security -- has approved the company's globally distributed, publicly shared cloud platform for federal agencies to use. The individual agencies still must issue their own ATOs, but the P-ATO designation streamlines the process.

Ruff said there are other advantages to agencies besides Akamai's public cloud earning such a broad compliance rating. For instance, the P-ATO covers the company's content, storage, traffic management, and other services. "Our boundary is the broadest set of offerings that FedRAMP has provisioned to date," he said.

Then there is what Ruff termed "FedRAMP to the power of two." Agencies can utilize Akamai's intelligent platform in front of another FedRAMP-compliant offering, such as CGI Federal's Web hosting services.

Finally, since the business of the government frequently is global in its scope, Akamai's federal customers can customize to address traffic both inside the United States and outside its boundaries.

"We have many customers that need to reach worldwide," Ruff said. "It could be the Red Cross, it could be the U.S. Air Force, or it could be for certain apps like [Common Access Card] credentialing where you need to be able to authenticate a person worldwide. We have that capability."

About the Author(s)

Patience Wait


Washington-based Patience Wait contributes articles about government IT to InformationWeek.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights