Amazon Web Services will build a bespoke cloud environment to handle top secret Defence and intelligence data as part of a $2 billion deal with the federal government.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles announced the partnership between the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Thursday morning.

The deal, worth at least $2 billion over 10 years, will see AWS building a sovereign top secret cloud for data held by Defence and National Intelligence Community agencies.

“This cutting-edge technology will enhance Defence’s resilience, improve the ADF’s warfighting capacity, strengthen interoperability with key international partners and deliver up to 2,000 Australian jobs,” Marles said.

“This significant investment is a reflection of the Albanese Government’s sensible approach to prioritising the enabling capabilities our Defence Force needs in order to address the complex strategic circumstances we face.”

The federal government has been looking to establish its own sovereign cloud environment capable of handling top secret data for several years.

An approach to market was made in late 2020, and the federal government was reportedly in discussions with Microsoft for most of 2021 before the US tech giant backed out of the talks in mid-2022.

Albanese said the deal would create thousands of local jobs, and AWS would be working with local Australian businesses on its design and development.

“This important investment today will help enhance our national security capabilities while creating up to 2,000 local jobs,” Albanese said.

“We face a range of complex and serious security challenges, and I am incredibly proud of the work our national security agencies undertake on a daily basis to keep Australians safe.

“We must never underestimate their value and importance.

“That is what this investment today is about.”

AWS says it will help Australia's intelligence agencies "achieve their missions faster". Photo: AWS

AWS’s new platform will improve the ability to “securely share and analyse the nation’s most classified data at speed and at scale” and will be able to harness technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The deal was welcomed by ASD director-general Rachel Noble.

“This is another fantastic example of what we can achieve for Australia when the private and public sector work together in partnership,” Noble said.

“The Top Secret Cloud with Amazon Web Services in Australia will provide a state-of-the-art collaborative space for our intelligence and defence community to store and access top secret data.

“This will transform how we work together as agencies and partners.

“For ASD, this capability is a vital part of our REDSPICE program which is lifting our intelligence and offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.”

AWS investing in Australia

The new cloud environment is part of the Labor government’s 2024 National Defence Strategy, and builds on AWS’s planned $13.2 billion investment in Australian infrastructure by 2027.

“Amazon Web Services is excited to embark on this strategic partnership with the Australian Government, to provide our most innovative, efficient and effective cloud services to help Australia enhance its national defence capabilities and protect its citizens,” AWS vice-president, worldwide public sector Dave Levy said.

“This partnership will enable the Australian Government and its defence and intelligence agencies to securely share information, speed up innovation, and achieve their missions faster.

AWS’s investment in Australian cloud infrastructure was unveiled in April last year, with $11 billion going towards the Sydney region, and $2.2 billion to be spent in Melbourne.