The purpose of the new service is to meet the regulatory requirements of the U.S. Government, Amazon wrote in a blog post announcing the service.
In particular, the new cloud service -- located on the West Coast -- supports the processing and storage of International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) controlled data and the hosting of ITAR-controlled applications. ITAR stipulates that all controlled data must be stored in an environment where logical and physical access is limited to US Persons (US citizens and permanent residents), Amazon said. To demonstrate this compliance, Amazon said it has commissioned a third-party review of the ITAR compliance program for AWS GovCloud (US) and has received a favorable letter of attestation with respect to the stated ITAR objectives.
Services supported by the new service include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon CloudWatch and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).
Amazon points out that it actually required few changes for the service to be compliant with federal government regulations, and that in fact more than 100 federal, state and local government agencies are already using the AWS service.
The service is pay-as-you-go and Amazon has a large, complete pricing chart for it. The company also hinted that it was interested in setting up similar services for other countries.
Not the First
Amazon isn't the first company to provide a cloud-specific service for the US government; both Microsoft and Google have provided similar services, including applications in the cloud.
In fact, as you may recall earlier this year, Microsoft and Google were sniping at each other about which one truly complied with federal government regulations. Perhaps that's part of what got Amazon interested.