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IBM Government Cloud Gets FedRAMP Approval

Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program guarantees IBM's infrastructure as a service platform meets federal network security standards.

Wyatt Kash

November 7, 2013

3 Min Read


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A government IT board granted IBM's SmartCloud for Government operating approval, allowing federal agencies to use IBM's infrastructure as-a-service cloud platform with the guarantee that it meets federal network security standards.

IBM received the Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO) from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and its Joint Authorization Board. The board, made up of IT officials from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. General Services Administration, assesses the security controls used by cloud service providers and approves those that fully conform with federally-mandated operating standards.

The authorized IBM cloud environment is part of IBM's dedicated federal data centers facilities located in Colorado and North Carolina.

The IBM SmartCloud for Government was originally launched in 2010, and offers agencies one of the most secure and comprehensive certified multi-tenant cloud computing environments available. Numerous U.S. federal agencies already use IBM's cloud offerings, using previously issued authorities to operate from individual defense and civilian agencies. The facility uses NetApp storage technology.

The FedRAMP certification effectively gives the IBM government cloud government-wide operating approval. Historically, IT service providers must obtain network security authorization on an agency-by-agency basis. "FedRAMP certification by the JAB provides an overarching validation of the robust security IBM's cloud offerings provide," said Anne Altman, general manager, IBM U.S. Federal. "IBM's efforts to make the cloud secure extend beyond the current requirements. Our research teams are exploring the next generation of cloud security and are committed to bringing further innovation to the government in this area."

IBM joins a small but growing roster of similarly-authorized cloud service providers, including Akamai, AT&T, Autonomic Resources, CGI Federal, HP Enterprise Cloud Services, and Microsoft. FedRAMP also grants security authorizations to cloud service providers, including Amazon Web Services, working with individual agencies.

The approval comes on the heels of a number of announcements in recent days by IBM, including a series of recently and soon-to-be-released big data analytics services and capabilities.

IBM has also announced updates to its SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, which analyze usage patterns to determine the best storage choice for a given set of data, and automatically make the change without admin assistance or interruptions to data access, as InformationWeek reported earlier this week.

IBM also opened its new Federal Cloud Innovation Center in Washington, D.C. The center expects to draw on more than 500 IBM researchers and specialists in cloud computing, open standards and security protocols for cloud computing.

Bold visions are competing with practical budget realities for federal IT leaders. Our latest annual survey looks at the top IT priorities. Also in the new, all-digital Tech Priorities issue of InformationWeek Government: IT leaders are making progress improving the efficiencies in their IT operations, but many lack the tools to prove it. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Wyatt Kash

former Editor, InformationWeek Government

Wyatt Kash is a former Editor of InformationWeek Government, and currently VP for Content Strategy at ScoopMedia. He has covered government IT and technology trends since 2004, as Editor-in-Chief of Government Computer News and Defense Systems (owned by The Washington Post Co. and subsequently 1105 Media). He also was part of a startup venture at AOL, where he helped launch AOL Government. His editorial teams have earned numerous national journalism awards. He is the 2011 recipient of the G.D. Crain Award, bestowed annually on one individual nationally for outstanding career contributions to editorial excellence in American business media.

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