No matter how much cash companies rake in from the private sector, everyone knows the big bucks are with the government. So, Amazon's new higher-level security pass will let it waltz right up to the pork barrels as .gov goes cloud.

What's the Password

FISMA is the short version of the Federal Information Security Management Act, a required stamp of approval needed to prove that Amazon's AWS services meet strict standards in cloud security in terms of configuration, control and essential protection for both physical and virtual systems. Amazon already had a low clearance allowing it to work with some NASA and Treasury Department contracts.

Now, having passed the tougher "Moderate Level"  tests, Amazon AWS can now be used for bigger, more security-conscious, government contracts. As the .gov tries to reduce its own costs in light of the continuing financial crisis and move more classified projects from its own servers to cloud-based one, big name systems from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others will all be in hot competition.

That comes on the back of August's announcement of a new AWS region, certified U.S.-only and specifically for government use. GovCloud, as the new servers are called, allow U.S. government agencies and contractors to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements.

Saving Dollars

The Treasury's first move to AWS cloud services saved it an estimated US$ 750,000, and other departments will likely come flocking to the cloud as their budgets are reined in during the continuing uncertainty. Amazon claims there are over 100 government agencies using its services now and this new award might help thousands more more over.

The new Moderate FISMA rating joins Amazon's clutch of other certifications including FISMA Low, PCI DSS Level 1, FIPS 140-2, ISO 27001, and SAS-70 type II.