Pentagon delays disputed JEDI cloud contract

The JEDI will have to wait a while longer for the award of the Pentagon's hotly-contested multi-billion "winner-take-all" cloud contract because the RFP has just been delayed....
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor

The Pentagon has "delayed indefinitely its final request for proposals" (RFP) for its multi-billion dollar cloud contract, Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White told Bloomberg today.

The question came up 11 minutes into the Pentagon briefing, which is available online at DVIDS. White said "it's important that we don't rush towards failure" and "we are moving forward as quickly as we can to get this right."

Rivals expected the deal to go to Amazon, which already operates a top secret cloud for the CIA. Oracle and Microsoft are among the companies that have been lobbying for a multi-cloud or multi-vendor strategy where they might expect to get some of the business.

President Trump's Twitter attacks on Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos are apparently not factors in the contract. At a White House briefing early in April, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "The president is not involved in the process", and White confirmed that in her briefing.

In fact, political interference in a procurement bid would probably be illegal.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud program is intended to reduce complexity in the Defense Departments IT infrastructure, which is one reason why it is keen on a single-vendor solution. Having to manage a multi-vendor cloud would add complexity.

However, with a (mainly) one-cloud solution, there is also the risk of vendor and/or technology lock-in, and the fear of missing out on innovations that may be developed by alternative suppliers.

The instruction in the Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018 (PDF), says:

"The Secretary of Defense is directed to provide a report to the congressional defense committees not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act detailing a framework for all Department entities, to include combat support agencies, to acquire cloud computing services including standards, best practices, contract types, and exit strategies to ensure government flexibility as requirements evolve. The report should also include justification, to include cost considerations, for executing a single award contract rather than creating an infrastructure capable of storing and sharing data across multiple cloud computing service providers concurrently, to include data migration and middleware costs."

The JEDI contract has been widely debated for the past two years and looks likely to stick around for some time.

See also:

Department of Defense's updated cloud-computing contract still is winner-take-all

Oracle's cloud business in the time of Trump

Editorial standards