Pentagon Seeks Cloud Contract Bids From AWS, Microsoft, Google, Oracle

The US Department of Defence (DoD) last week has solicited bids from cloud giants Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle for a cloud contract.

According to the US General Services Administration, the Defense Department has solicited bids from four cloud providers deemed worthy. These were Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle.

In July 2021 the Pentagon finally pulled the plug on $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, after a protracted legal challenge by Amazon Web Services.

Joint Warfighting

Trouble began after the Pentagon in October 2019 decided to award the JEDI contract exclusively to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s AWS cloud division being widely regarded as favourite to win the contract.

After cancelling the JEDI cloud contract solicitation, the Pentagon promised a followup request for proposals to provide cloud services for national defense, under the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) programme.

It was reported earlier this month that Google’s cloud division had reassigned engineers to work on a proposal to contribute to the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program.

This multi billion dollar project (although the actual value is not yet confirmed) is described by the DoD as an attempt to “achieve dominance in both traditional and non-traditional warfighting domains.

“The Government anticipates awarding two IDIQ contracts – one to Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) and one to Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) – but intends to award to all Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that demonstrate the capability to meet DoD’s requirements,” the GSA was quoted by CNBC as saying in its announcement.

An indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, or IDIQ, contract includes an indefinite amount of services for a specific period of time.

The GSA reportedly said only two US cloud infrastructure providers, Amazon and Microsoft, appear able to comply with all of the Pentagon’s requirements, which include “tactical edge devices” that can operate outside of traditional data centres and support all levels of data classification.

The Pentagon expects each of the IDIQ contracts to have a three-year base period and two year-long option periods.

JEDI clashes

With the contract worth so much money, the bidding for the Joint Warfighter contract is expected to be a highly fractious affair, much like the JEDI contract.

Amazon challenged the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft the entire JEDI contract, blaming political pressure from former US President Donald Trump.

In November 2019 AWS quickly filed an official complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting the decision.

In September 2020 the Pentagon concluded that Microsoft had been the best value for money for the contract, much to the anger of AWS.

And AWS continued its challenge, until in July the Pentagon shelved the JEDI contract altogether.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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