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A New Government-Only Cloud

Amazon appears set to launch a government-only cloud service for federal agencies that will allow them to meet specific security requirements for the handling of federal data, such as having only U.S. citizens as employees on the service to meet laws restricting the transfer of data to non-citizens. What caught my eye about the service was the following point about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), since the requirements of that law are among the set of data management concerns (including the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA) influencing college and university decisions on adopting cloud services:

"Amazon's new 'GovCloud' offers the same basic security features as other portions of its public cloud, the company said, and also allows agencies to comply with other regulations governing treatment of federal data, such as the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act..."

Hopefully, the fact that Amazon has developed a cloud solution for the federal government that addresses HIPAA bodes well for the development of cloud services for higher education institutions facing similar issues. It is important to note, though, that the federal government has already made a major commitment to migrate a major portion of its IT infrastructure to cloud services within the next few years, providing a significant financial incentive for responses such as Amazon's.

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