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Amazon Announces a Modular AWS Data Center Made for the US Military

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Amazon has pulled the wraps off a new portable and modular AWS data center. It creatively calls it the AWS Modular Data Center (AWS MDC), and it’s essentially a data center stuffed into a shipping container. This design allows them to be shipped practically anywhere in the world by boat, ship, or freight. They can also be air-transportable with military cargo planes due to their small size.  Amazon says the MDC was designed to assist Department of Defense customers who need to process petabytes of data in remote locations.

The MDC modules are the exact same size and dimensions as a standard shipping container. They come pre-configured with internal networking, cooling, and power distribution equipment. All they need to operate is access to power, so that limits how remotely they can be deployed. Clients can add as many modules as they prefer to scale to their operation’s demands. It can also be used with on-site AWS solutions such as AWS Outposts for networking or Snowball Edge for petabytes of data migration to the cloud. If they’re in a location that’s defined as Disconnected, Disrupted, Intermittent, or Limited (DDIL), the MDCs can run some AWS services without any internet connection at all if AWS Snow devices are used. Customers can use satellite communications if necessary.

Amazon says this portable data center resolves an increasingly common issue. The military and its contractors are shifting to using cloud applications more often–a problem in areas with intermittent network connectivity. Accessing real-time data with low latency is a big challenge in many locations. The solution has been to build a mini data center on what Amazon calls the “tactical edge,” an area where a military environment has limited internet connectivity and storage options. This drop-in container replaces an ad hoc data center and can also scale much easier. Amazon says the MDC will allow DoD customers to “securely store, analyze, and interpret petabytes worth of data in real-time to gain military advantage in the most isolated environments.”

The MDC will replace fixed infrastructure that was difficult to build and even more difficult to manage. Amazon says the MDC is now available for any US Government customers who are eligible for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract. This was awarded to AWS in December 2022 as part of a military program to bring cloud capabilities to all the branches of the service. It’s currently supported on AWS GovCloud in both the west and east regions.

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