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Pentagon’s “JEDI” Cloud Contract Leaves AWS Rivals Sithing

"May the force be with you - in the cloud"

By CBR Staff Writer

It is the mother of all cloud migration contracts, with a final request for proposals expected this week.

The winner will get up to $1.63 billion (£1.2 billion) by 2023 and will be responsible for incalculably sensitive material, including nuclear weapon design information and classified NATO data.

But the Pentagon’s “winner-takes-all” cloud strategy has caused fury in the industry, amid concern that market leader AWS is a shoe-in to win the colossal Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract (JEDI).

The “Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector” group is among those that have publicly hit out at the planned contract.

They said this week: “A winner-take-all award dilutes the benefits of best practices, strongly increasing the likelihood of vendor and technology lock-in, and negatively impacting innovation, costs, and security.”

More than 3.4 million end users, four million endpoint devices, 1,700 different data centers in use and 500 cloud initiatives are currently reported to be used by the US’s Department of Defense. And the JEDI team, which is working for the Pentagon on the planned migration, says it received 1,089 comments from 46 vendors, two trade associations and three government agencies on the plan after a request for comment.

Oracle declined to comment to Computer Business Review on widespread industry rumours that it is leading opposition to JEDI.

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But a loose coalition of companies including Microsoft is believed to be pushing – thus far fruitlessly – for the contract to be cut into multiple awards.

More Cloud Wars than Star Wars

“Negatively Impacts Innovation, Costs, and Security.”

In letter to Congress leaked to Fedscoop however, Pentagon Chief Management Officer John Gibson said a multiple-award contract would “prevent DoD from rapidly delivering new capabilities and improved effectiveness to the warfighter that enterprise-level cloud computing can enable.”

The Pentagon wants to pool data in a single cloud that can serve as the foundation for the department’s adoption of AI-powered defense techniques.

“Leveraging ML/AI at a tempo required to be relevant to warfighters, however, requires significant computing and data storage in a common environment,” the letter says.

“The DoD therefore must rapidly adopt the critical foundational technologies available in commercial cloud computing and storage, while eliminating considerable technical debt and security risk.”

The department clearly does not intend to budge on the single vendor point and AWS may be hearing the words “may the force be with you” sooner than later.

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