The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has withdrawn from their $10 billion JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) Cloud contract, which named Microsoft Azure as the provider of cloud services for the Pentagon. The Pentagon has now canceled the JEDI Cloud solicitation and initiated contract termination procedures while it plans to re-tender the contract and divide the work among multiple firms.

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Photo John Sherman, acting DoD Chief Information Officer
“JEDI was developed at a time when the Department’s needs were different and both the CSPs technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature,” said John Sherman, acting DoD Chief Information Officer.

The Department has decided that the JEDI Cloud contract no longer fulfills its objectives owing to changing requirements, increasing cloud familiarity, and industry advancements. The Department continues to have unmet cloud capability gaps for enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services that work at the tactical edge, at scale, at all three classification levels – these requirements have only gotten more urgent in recent years, thanks to initiatives like Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration (ADA) initiative.

Only Microsoft Azure and AWS are capable of meeting the Pentagon’s standards at the moment. Market research would suggest that these two vendors are the only ones capable of satisfying the DoD’s criteria. Therefore, only those two companies are eligible to bid for the new contract.

Other companies would still have to demonstrate their worth, according to the DoD. The transaction will not be given to Microsoft Azure or AWS automatically though. The companies still have to submit new plans outlining how they intend to satisfy the Pentagon’s criteria.

“We understand and agree with the DoD’s decision. Unfortunately, the contract award was not based on the merits of the proposals and instead was the result of outside influence that has no place in government procurement,” said an AWS spokesperson. “Our commitment to supporting our nation’s military and ensuring that our warfighters and defense partners have access to the best technology at the best price is stronger than ever. We look forward to continuing to support the DoD’s modernization efforts and building solutions that help accomplish their critical missions.”

Other CSPs

“JEDI was developed at a time when the Department’s needs were different and both the CSPs technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature,” said John Sherman, acting DoD Chief Information Officer. “In light of new initiatives like JADC2 and AI 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 non-traditional warfighting domains.”

The U.S. Department of Defense will immediately engage with the industry though and continue its market study to see whether any other U.S.-based hyperscale CSPs can fulfill the DoD’s standards, as stated in its Pre-Solicitation Notice. If such is the case, the Department will likewise negotiate with those businesses.

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