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Addressing the mandate for some US government agencies to process and store data in data centers accessible only by US persons – both physically and logically – Amazon has launched a region of its public-cloud services that is dedicated to serving federal agencies.

Amazon Web Services'regions are identified by geographies and are supported by data centers located in those geographies. Customers have a choice of regions that support virtual AWS resources they use.

The new AWS GovCloud region was designed to help government agencies and contractors move sensitive data into the Cloud to leverage the advantages of on-demand infrastructure resources.

The most important advantage of using public Cloud is avoidance of large capital expenditures associated with building data centers that often remain underutilized for large portions of their lifespans.

Federal agencies have a "Cloud first" mandate, which means they are required to always look for a Cloud-based IT solution first for new capacity and to resort to in-house data center resources only as a last resort. Many agencies, however, have sensitive data that until now could not be stored within a large international infrastructure like Amazon's for security reasons.

AWS resources available in the GovCloud region include Elastic Compute Cloud (virtual servers), Simple Storage Service and Virtual Private Cloud. They are available to agencies on a "pay-as-you-go" basis.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was one of the first agencies to use AWS. "We've leveraged AWS in our missions for a few years now and were the first to use cloud computing for daily operations," the lab's CTO Tomas Soderstrom said.

"By working with cloud computing providers such as AWS, we gain the flexibility to move quickly, acquire IT resources on-demand and save money by paying only for the resources we use."