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Friday, 12 October 2018 07:39

WikiLeaks reveals Amazon data centres ahead of DoD bid closure Featured

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WikiLeaks reveals Amazon data centres ahead of DoD bid closure Courtesy WikiLeaks

A day ahead of the closing of bids for a massive US Department of Defence cloud contract, WikiLeaks has published the locations of Amazon's data centres which, it claims, have been a closely held secret until now. Amazon is a frontrunner to win the US$10 billion contract.

The whistleblower website said the information was contained in an internal document from the cloud provider dating back to late 2015.

The DoD contract, known by its acronym JEDI — Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure — is meant to unite all Defence services under one cloud vendor as the CIA did in 2013 with Amazon at a cost of US$600 million

In August, a report in the American magazine Vanity Fair  said that the conditions laid down for the contract appeared to be sharply skewed to favour Amazon.

WikiLeaks said that a few of the data centres were publicly associated with Amazon but this was the exception. In most cases, the company was said to operate out of data centres owned by other companies and with no indication that it had a presence in these centres.

The data centres are located in Northern Virginia, Seattle, California Bay Area, Northeastern Oregon, Dublin, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Beijing, Ningxia, Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Additionally, WikiLeaks said, Amazon sometimes ran its data centres under lesser known subsidiaries such as VaData. At its IAD77 data centre, the leaked document says that “Amazon is known as ‘Vandalay Industries’ on badges and all correspondence with building manager”.

The name Vandalay Industries was made famous by the Seinfeld character George Costanza who made it up when asked by an US dole official about the names of places where he had interviewed for a job.

WikiLeaks pointed out that in 2017, Amazon had announced the AWS Secret Region, which was storing data classified up to the Secret level by a range of government agencies and companies. Amazon won a US$600 million contract with the CIA in 2013.

The US Government has said it is looking for a single provider and other companies that are bidding, like Oracle and IBM, have made formal protests about this requirement.

WikiLeaks cited recent research that showed Amazon had 34% of the cloud infrastructure services market.

WikiLeaks has not published anything of note for some time, with its publisher Julian Assange being stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and cut off from the Internet since March.

Last month, Assange stepped down from the position of editor-in-chief, but retained the title of publisher. He was replaced by journalist, and former WikiLeaks spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.