Defense Department Cancels JEDI Cloud Contract
The department will still pursue a cloud platform with Microsoft, as well as Amazon.
The Department of Defense will no longer pursue its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud effort, announcing on July 6 that it had begun the contract termination process for the contested solicitation. The DoD explained that the “contract no longer meets its needs,” due to changing requirements, technology advances and increased understanding of cloud environments.
“JEDI was developed at a time when the department’s needs were different and both the CSPs [cloud service providers’] technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature,” said John Sherman, acting DoD chief information officer. “In light of new initiatives like JADC2 [joint all-domain command and control] and AI [artificial intelligence] and data acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within DoD, and changes in user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments to execute mission, our landscape has advanced and a new way-ahead is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and nontraditional warfighting domains.”
Awarded to Microsoft Corporation in October of 2019, the JEDI contract has been tied up in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims following Amazon Web Services’ challenge of the 10-year contract a month later. In February 2020, the court issued a preliminary injunction, stopping all work on the contract.
Even before the contract award, companies—including IBM and Oracle—had taken the unusual step of a filing pre-award protests. Hundreds of industry representatives, who had packed a ballroom at the Key Bridge Marriott to hear about the original unveiling of the JEDI request for proposal in the early summer of 2018, were stunned to hear of the DoD’s selection of a single cloud environment.
The DoD issued the contract for Microsoft to provide enterprise level, commercial infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service cloud solutions as part of the company’s Azure cloud platform to DoD business and mission operations.
Instead, it will now pursue the so-called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), which will be a multiple cloud environment, multiple vendor solicitation. For the indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contract, the department indicated that it will “seek proposals from a limited number of sources,” including Microsoft and Amazon, “as available market research indicates that these two vendors are the only cloud service providers capable of meeting the department’s requirements.
“However, as noted in its Pre-Solicitation Notice, the department will immediately engage with industry and continue its market research to determine whether any other U.S.-based hyperscale CSPs can also meet the DoD’s requirements,” the announcement stated. “If so, the department will also negotiate with those companies.”
Top leaders have expressed a clear need for a robust cloud solution, especially to support joint warfighting across all domains. “We are clearly in need of cloud, to include a deployable, tactical cloud, to do this type of processes and data storage at the edge,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, director, Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Cyber; and chief information officer, The Joint Staff (J-6), last month during a press conference at the Pentagon.
Gen. Crall explained that while the department did “have adequate” cloud resources in the near-term, going forward, “the absence of an enterprise cloud solution will clearly inhibit us in the future.”
In the July 6 statement, Sherman confirmed the DoD’s cloud needs.
“The department continues to have unmet cloud capability gaps for enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services at all three classification levels that work at the tactical edge, at scale—these needs have only advanced in recent years with efforts such as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration (ADA) initiative.”