With recent news of the US Department of Defense canceling the development of its cloud computing program JEDI, the United States Department of Defense has now created a new competition to replace JEDI. The new program will be called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI 2.0), and is set to replace the already canceled JEDI program. The new program will be open to any company with a proven track record of providing cloud computing services. Microsoft was first to apply for the new program.
For once, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has made a decision that it doesn’t like, and it’s a decision that has already resulted in great controversy. Today, The DoD has announced that it will not be purchasing any more of the most expensive part of its cloud infrastructure, the JEDI cloud. JEDI is a $10 billion project that was designed to make the DoD’s most sensitive data secure and accessible by multiple vendors. However, the controversy that has occurred since its announcement has resulted in Amazon and Microsoft competing to see who can get the contract.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Defense cancelled the Joint Venture Cloud Infrastructure (JEDI) previously awarded to Microsoft and initiated contract termination proceedings. The department also announced that it is soliciting bids from Microsoft and Amazon for new cloud computing efforts.
The department also said it would contact the industry and conduct market research to determine whether other US-based hyperscale CSPs, other than Amazon and Microsoft, could meet the department’s requirements.
JEDI was developed at a time when the needs of the department were different and CSP and our cloud technology were less mature. With new initiatives such as JADC2 and AI and Data Acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within the Department of Defense, and the changing needs of users to use different cloud environments to accomplish missions, our landscape has changed and we need a new path to achieve dominance in both traditional and non-traditional warfighting domains, said John Sherman, acting chief information officer, Department of Defense.
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The 10-year, $10 billion JEDI contract has caused outrage among cloud companies, especially since the contract would be awarded to one company to help the department adapt to the new infrastructure. Initially, it seemed that Google was fine-tuning the contract until October 2018, when there was a backlash from employees because the contract violated Google’s corporate values.
Other companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle and REAN Cloud (part of Hitachi Data Systems), have also entered the ring. This time, however, Amazon seemed the most likely contender for the contract, until it was finally awarded to Microsoft in October 2019, after the award was suspended at the urging of then-President Donald Trump due to allegations of favoritism by Amazon.
Microsoft also faced opposition from its employees, who initially opposed the contract because of the secrecy surrounding the JEDI application. In an open letter issued just before the contract expired, the workers stated that the contract is huge and shrouded in a haze of secrecy, making it almost impossible to know what the workers will build.
In August 2018, Oracle filed a pre-award protest, arguing that the contract should not be awarded to one company. A few months later, in October, IBM also protested, stating: No company in the world will build a cloud like JEDI does and commit to it for ten years. JEDI goes against the wishes of Congress and the government, is a poor use of taxpayer money, and was written with one company in mind. Nevertheless, the two companies continued to compete for the contract.
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Twenty months after the contract was awarded to Microsoft, the Department of Defense decided to cancel it to avoid the threat of a multi-year legal battle. Microsoft has also published a blog post stating that the department has had to make some difficult decisions and that the termination of a contract will not affect its relationship with the Department of Defense.
It seems the department still has plans for a cloud-based infrastructure – the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, or JWCC, program. Although the name of the program does not include pop culture references, the department seems to have learned the lessons of JEDI.
The program is a contract with an indefinite delivery period and an indefinite number of suppliers. Although the Department has avoided some of the problems by not awarding the contract to a single company, it continues to ask only a few companies for bids, namely Microsoft and Amazon.
The reason, according to the Department of Defense, is that they are currently the only two cloud service providers (CSPs) that meet the Department’s requirements. However, according to the notice, the authority will study the area and conduct market research to identify and negotiate with other CSPs that can meet its requirements.
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