AWS offers guidance - managed solution

AWS offers guidance for trusted cloud connections

As written by Stephanie Kanowitz on
A new resource is available to help agencies develop Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) architectures in the cloud.
So far, the capabilities of TIC, an Office of Management and Budget mandate to reduce the number of network gateways on federal networks and route external connections through approved government agencies -- TIC Access Providers or Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services -- are not available in the cloud.
But Amazon Web Services’ “Guidance for TIC Readiness on AWS,” released Feb. 3, details ways that agencies could develop TIC-ready architectures on the AWS cloud, rather than routing traffic through a TICAP or MTIPS, which can slow connections and cause constraints on a the network. The guidance, based on results of a pilot program, addresses how agencies can directly access applications running in a TIC-ready cloud on a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program moderate baseline.
The guidance highlights two areas: common connection scenarios with a TIC overlay and AWS capabilities and features that help with TIC compliance. The scenarios include a use case involving authenticated web and mobile applications in an “all in cloud” deployment, such as the General Services Administration’s GSA Advantage, which is a public website with authentication requirements.
“In this architecture, an [Internet gateway] provides Internet connectivity to two or more customer-defined public subnets across multiple Availability Zones in the [virtual private cloud],” the guidance states. “An [Elastic Load Balancing] load balancer is placed in these public subnets. A web-tier is configured within an Auto Scaling group, leveraging the ELB load balancer to provide a continuously available web front end. This web tier securely communicates with other backend resources, most notably the backend identity store used for role-based authentication.”
Another scenario involves public web and mobile applications requiring authentication and operating in hybrid environments. This means a portion of the environment is situated onsite in a data center. Users can access these applications from home or via public Wi-Fi or agency networks using either personal or government-issued devices.
In this case, part of the application architecture resides in the cloud while the other -- often sensitive-data sources -- reside in a data center. “Connectivity between the in-cloud portions of the application and the controlled, on-premises components is achieved using AWS Direct Connect or virtual-private network service in conjunction with a TICAP or Managed Trusted IP Service provider,” the guidance states. “In this way, data flow between the customer’s in-cloud and on-premises services are seen by the TIC.”
AWS offers guidance 2 - managed solution
The second aspect of the guide discusses the capabilities and features available to achieve TIC compliance in the cloud. It includes AWS Identity and Access Management, which is a web service that enables IT departments to manage multiple users, groups, roles and permissions for AWS offerings such as the Amazon Relational Database Service.
Amazon CloudWatch is another on the guide’s list. It’s a monitoring service for AWS cloud resources and the applications that run on them. It can collect and track metrics, monitor log files and set alarms, providing systemwide visibility into resource use, application performance and operational health, the guidance states.
Other capabilities and features include:
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service, a scalable distributed object store that stores objects redundantly on multiple devices and at multiple facilities.
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, a web service that enables resizable compute capacity in the cloud.
  • Amazon Config, a managed service that provides an AWS inventory and configuration history and sends configuration change notices.
Amazon issued the guidance after completing the testing phase of the FedRAMP-TIC Overlay pilot. The program started in May 2015 as a way to research an approach that would address agencies’ need for fast and secure connections. Currently, mobile users connect to an agency, which connects to a FedRAMP-approved cloud provider via TICAPS or MTIPS. In the future, mobile users would connect with a FedRAMP-approved cloud that is also TIC-compliant, and that cloud would then connect with an agency via the trusted providers.
Amazon worked with Homeland Security Department and FedRAMP officials on the testing.

magic clouds
The Mythical, Magical Cloud By Kate Frasure, Customer Development Manager

I was standing in Verizon Wireless the other day to upgrade my phone. The salesman I was working with was describing to me the process of transferring the data from my current phone to the new one via the cloud back-up.
When I started to speak, I noticed my hand made a gesture as if I was talking about a physical ‘cloud’ in the sky. It’s amazing how the branding of essentially data that is just located in a big data center, offsite, has been made to appear more like a mythical, magical world where our data lives.
As one of our engineers pointed out to me, ‘the cloud’ has been around longer than you may think. If you ever setup a Hotmail or Yahoo email account, or even if you have a Gmail account today, you are utilizing the cloud for your mail because the email data is housed on a server in a datacenter somewhere in the United States.
Of course today, it is not just email anymore. You can now setup your entire business network infrastructure in the cloud and not only that, there are various services you can choose from. So who should you choose?
Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each service offers you a variety of options and it is up to you to determine which mix of services best fits your business needs.
Lucky for you, we have put together a quick side-by-side comparison to help you get started. While there may be a variety of options out there, we decided to look at three of the most well-known, Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
Amazon Web Service (AWS) Microsoft Azure Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Year entered market
Hours of downtime in 2014
2.69 hours
 50.74 hours
Under 5 hours
 Linux OS Support
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Fedora
  • Ubuntu
  • CentOS Linux
  • SUSE Linux (SLES and openSUSE) Enterprise
  • Canonical Ubuntu
  • CentOS by OpenLogic
  • CoreOS
  • Oracle Linux
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise
  • openSUSE
 Not currently available
Pricing & Models*
  • Per hour – rounded up
  • On demand, reserved, spot
  • Per minute – rounded up commitments (pre-paid or monthly)
  • On demand – short term commitments (pre-paid or monthly)
  • Per minute – rounded up (10 minute minimum)
  • On demand – sustained use
 GovCloud – meets ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), HIPAA, SOC 1-3, ISO 27001, FIPS 140-2 compliant endpoints, etc.
 Azure Government – still very new
  • Scalability
  • Auto-scaling offered at additional cost through CloudWatch
  • Large partner ecosystem, having been in the market the longest
  • Larger offering of third-party applications
  • Archiving capability through Glacier
  • Seamless integration for heavily invested Microsoft users
  • More modern, familiar and easy to use interface for those familiar with Windows
  • Vast hybrid capabilities
  • Primarily targets PaaS**
  • Single sign-on (SSO) option for many applications
  • Better networking, with each instance living on its own network
  • Instant auto-scaling for no additional cost
  • Data storage and analytic tool capabilities
  • Requires cloud architecture knowledge
  • Has experienced significantly more downtime than AWS and GCP in the last year
  • Not as much support for Linux, especially Red Hat
  • Not as geographically widespread
  • Not as many offerings
*Pricing Models: on demand – customers pay for what they use without any upfront cost; reserved – customers reserve instances for 1 or 3 years with an upfront cost that is based on the utilization; spot – customers bid for the extra capacity available
**PaaS (Platform as a service): Vendor provides the infrastructure and an application development platform that generally includes the operating system, database and web server. Customers managed only their applications.
About the author:
Kate Frasure is a Texas-born, Colorado-raised project manager. In her role as Customer Development Manager at Managed Solution, she oversees the process of bringing new clients on board and various other IT projects. Her diverse communications background and attention-to-detail contribute to her passion to improve processes to see businesses succeed. She is continuously looking to find the organization and flow that accompanies a streamlined business.

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