• The West region joins AWS Top Secret-East, which has been hosting the government’s top-secret data since 2014.
  • Both the Top Secret regions are more than 1,000 miles apart. This will allow customers to store data closer to users for latency-sensitive workloads.
  • Several government firms accredited both zones to adhere to the level of security.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the launch of its second Top Secret region, AWS Top Secret-West, located in Northern Virginia. The new region has been specially designed to host workloads for the US government. US intelligence and defense agencies, including the CIA and NSA, will now be able to deploy multi-region architectures to host, analyze and run applications so as to achieve the highest levels of resiliency and availability.

AWS Top Secret-West is Amazon’s second commercial cloud accredited for classified workloads. Such regions have been explicitly designed for the US government. The company now holds ‘Top-Secret’ regions on the two extreme ends of the US. The earlier region, the AWS Top Secret-East, has been hosting the government’s Top-Secret data since 2014. It was also the first air-gapped commercial cloud authorized to support classified workloads.

The exact location of the new region has not been disclosed. AWS did reveal that both the Top-Secret regions are more than 1,000 miles apart from each other. This will allow the customers to store data closer to users for latency-sensitive workloads. Both regions comprise multiple Availability Zones to ensure resiliency.

With a new cloud computing region, Government clients will be able to spread their workloads across geographies and choose different availability zones, too. The zone has been certified by several government firms to provide the level of security as expected by the target customers, including the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Intelligence Community Directive (ICD 503) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53 Revision 4.

The new cloud region has come after a long gap of eight years when AWS had won a $600 million cloud computing contract with the CIA. Ever since, commercial cloud services have seen a significant rise, as have AWS’ investments—including its new region—serving those unique cloud customers.

Expert Take

“With two top-secret regions, customers in the US defense, intelligence, and national security communities can deploy multi-region architectures to achieve the highest levels of resiliency and availability essential to their most critical national security missions,” AWS Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector Max Peterson stated in a blog. “In addition, they gain proximity to new geographically distributed workloads and mission users.”

“We’re looking real hard at the data centers that we have and where it’s appropriate, we’re trying to bring those to closure if you will, and retire them in favor of moving to the commercial cloud,” Waschull said.