The stakes are huge in the ongoing battle to power the government cloud, with billions of dollars up for grabs for the best cloud providers. So we imagine IBM’s cloud team is pretty happy today — or at least in better spirits than last week, when Big Blue decided to shutter its SmartCloud Enterprise platform.
A government IT board comprised of officials from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. General Services Administration yesterday granted IBM’s SmartCloud for Government platform a Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO), which will make it easier for Big Blue to sell its cloud services to government customers (and, potentially, to enterprises who respect the government’s network security standards).
IBM isn’t the first cloud provider to get a thumbs up from the federal government. Windows Azure received P-ATO status in late Sept., joining services from Akamai, AT&T, HP, and a host of others. (See the full list of government-sanctioned cloud vendors here.)
Since launching its SmartCloud for Government platform in 2010, IBM has lined up some major customers, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Interior, and most recently the General Services Administration. The company just lost a high-profile legal battle with Amazon over a $600 million CIA cloud computing contract, however, which was a major blow to Big Blue.
IBM’s government cloud platform does not yet integrate technology from SoftLayer, the cloud provider IBM acquired for $2 billion in June. IBM plans to launch a SoftLayer government cloud early next year, according to GigaOm.
IBM is working to fortify its cloud security “beyond the current requirements,” according to Anne Altman, the general manager of IBM U.S. Federal. In late October, the company opened a “Federal Cloud Innovation Center” in Washington, D.C., which is collaborating with the government to further the adoption of open standards for cloud computing.
This newly granted certification from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) effectively gives IBM approval to sell its cloud services to any government agency. Before, each agency had to independently approve IBM’s offering. All cloud vendors who want to sell to the government will need to achieve FedRAMP approval by the government’s June 2014 deadline.