AT&T serves up cloud storage, security platform for federal government agencies

AT&T (NYSE: T) is giving its federal government customers another path to fulfill their cloud computing mission by introducing its Synaptic Storage as a Service for Government service.

Offering the same features, policies, capabilities and EMC Atmos technology as AT&T's commercial cloud storage offer, the service provides a number of additional security elements pertinent to the public sector.

Among some of the new security measures are physically separated storage towers in each data center; a separate logical cloud for government data; and a segregated cloud portal for government agencies. In addition, all government agency customers and their authorized users will be assigned RSA hard token for 2-Factor Authentication.

Unlike its previous cloud solutions, the new product only serves the government and does not include any commercial business traffic.   

"This is a dedicated government community cloud," said Chris Smith, VP of Technology for AT&T Government Solutions, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "It is truly dedicated to the government space, which is a slight twist from the original offering we offered."

AT&T overcame a large obstacle to deliver cloud services to public sector agencies in 2012 when it was granted an Authority to Operate (ATO) for its Synaptic Storage as a Service (SSaaS) from the General Services Administration (GSA), allowing it to offer cloud storage services to federal agencies.

Despite the potential savings the cloud can bring, government agencies' adoption of cloud services has been slow.

A MeriTalk survey revealed that while the federal government could save $18.9 billion annually by migrating services and applications to the cloud, only 41 percent of respondents said their agency is considering cloud as part of their overall IT strategy. Another 51 percent said they would use cloud "only for a limited number of specific applications" and more than half of feds gave their agency a "C" or below on progress toward cloud.

Smith said that while cloud adoption amongst federal agencies varies, he is quite familiar with driving cloud services into federal government agencies.

During his tenure as Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Smith led one of the largest federal government transitions to cloud computing.

"There is still a lot of opportunity," he said. "A lot of folks have put one big toe in the water and some folks have taken a deeper dive. The Department of Agriculture under my leadership a few years ago went to the cloud wholesale for unified messaging communications with the Microsoft cloud."

From a broader perspective, AT&T has seen agencies make investments in low security, public facing applications in the cloud.

Smith said "what we are seeing now is a shift to put more mission critical applications in the cloud."

In addition to providing secure transmission for the growing amount of data that government agencies collect and store, AT&T Government Solutions customers can use the new service for Disaster Recovery (DR) and continuity of operations (COOP) applications.

"A couple of other applications would be Disaster Recovery/Continuity of Operations using a cloud-based storage where you have to resume operations or continue operations you can do it in a moment's notice," Smith said. 

For more:
- see the release

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Updated article on Sept. 4 with quotes from Chris Smith, VP of Technology for AT&T Government Solutions.