Next week sees tens of thousands of sweaty geeks (and, one assumes, a fair few nonsweaty ones as well) descending on Las Vegas for what has become one of the two biggest and most important cloud computing conferences on the planets.

On the one hand, we have the must-attend event for everyone in the sales and marketing side of organizations – the business folks. Salesforce’s DreamForce event, held only a few weeks ago, shut down most of San Francisco as 170,000 people came to learn, sell and generally advocate for the cloud.

But for those with more of an infrastructure bent, Amazon Web Services re:Invent is the place to be. From the early days when only a few thousand people would attend, this year looks set to be bigger than ever before – with much of Las Vegas’ strip being given over to the event. On a personal note, having to attend events in Vegas 8 or 10 times a year, it depresses me greatly that Vegas is such a drawcard – personally, I have a real antipathy to the place. But commercial realities mean that, for the foreseeable future, Vegas will be tech conference central, and I’ll keep going there.

Anyway – AWS has gotten to be an absolutely monstrous business and the reality is that there is too much going on to announce all the news at the show – the AWS product portfolio is simply too broad to have a once-yearly cadence for news. And so we’ve seen some early announcements of AWS news.

First up was an announcement this week that AWS is offering an entirely new region purely for the benefit of U.S. Intelligence organizations. And because probably two of the biggest offenders when it comes to having a bit of a fetish about buzzwords are intelligence operatives and IT geeks, the region has the very James Bond-like title of “AWS Secret Region.”

Beyond the Hollywood-esque nomenclature, however, the region is pretty interesting – allowing, as it does, workloads to be run at the Federal “secret” security classification. The region is a complement to the existing $600 million contract that various U.S. intelligence agencies had already signed with AWS. Whereas that previous contract was limited to intelligence agencies, however, this region actually moves beyond that and is available to any government agency needing to do work at the “secret” designation.

Now it has to be said that AWS isn’t the only one pitching for spy contracts. Anyone with a big IT footprint (think IBM, HPE, Microsoft etc.) is doing also – indeed, Microsoft only last month made an announcement of its (surprise surprise) Azure Government Secret, a similar offering from that other big Redmond cloud computing provider. The third of the triumvirate of big public cloud providers, Google, has yet to announce something formally about cracking the market – but watch this space.

Commenting on the history of AWS’ work with federal agencies, Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Amazon Web Services Worldwide Public Sector, said that:

The U.S. Intelligence Community can now execute their missions with a common set of tools, a constant flow of the latest technology and the flexibility to rapidly scale with the mission. The AWS Top Secret Region was launched three years ago as the first air-gapped commercial cloud and customers across the U.S. Intelligence Community have made it a resounding success. Ultimately, this capability allows more agency collaboration, helps get critical information to decision makers faster, and enables an increase in our Nation’s Security.


It only feels like a few months ago that many were suggesting that the cloud would never be able to be used for regulated or secure industries. Fast forward to today, or to next week in Vegas, and I can pretty much guarantee that every bank on earth, many global governments, and a host of intelligence agencies, will be attending re:Invent to look at options. The cloud offers far too much value to all organizations to simply discount it.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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