The FAA Starts Moving To The Cloud

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to move away from its own data centers and toward cloud services.

Last week, the FAA signed a deal with Computer Science Corp. (CSC) to help it migrate its data and systems to a hybrid cloud environment that will include Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure, and “other strategic business partners.” The current 10-year deal is worth $109 million, though CSC notes that it has the potential to reach $1 billion.

CSC, which is headquarters in Fall Church, Virginia, is among the top contractors in terms of money spent by the U.S. federal government.

The FAA says it’s now working with CSC to determine which applications are most suitable for the cloud. Once that process is complete, the FAA hopes it will be able to more easily keep up with industry standards and innovate faster by buying “IT as-a-service rather than buying expensive facilities and hardware that becomes outdated.”

It’s no secret that government agencies don’t exactly move fast and while both Amazon and Microsoft have won quite a few government contracts over the last few years, their work in getting certified for hosting government data is only now starting to pay off.

“Government adoption of cloud computing for mission applications is accelerating rapidly, and we are pleased to help FAA’s transition to the cloud,” said Teresa Carlson, Amazon Web Service’s VP of Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “With AWS’s security and compliance standards – like FedRAMP, ITAR and SRG – CSC will be able to rapidly enable FAA to realize the benefits of agility, cost savings, and flexibility.”

Greg Myers, the VP of Microsoft Federal, echoed this sentiment and also noted that the FAA already uses Office 365.

It remains to be seen which services and applications the FAA plans to move to the cloud. Most of us never see any of the FAA’s tools, but the organization offers a wide range of data services to airlines and private pilots, for example. Those range from making the most up-to-date aeronautical maps available to pilots, all the way to some of the data services that power the national air traffic control (ATC) system. Given that the FAA is still in the process of moving to an updated version of the ATC system, though, chances are it won’t make any chances there right away. Chances are, the FAA will move its file hosting services and some of its back-office tools to the cloud first and then look at how it can use public clouds to augment some of its other tools later.