At long last, on Oct. 25, the Defense Department awarded its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to Microsoft. In awarding the contract to Microsoft over rival Amazon Web Services, the DOD is seeking to move beyond the long-running acquisition saga and actually start deploying commercial cloud capabilities for Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service.
The first request for information on JEDI was released to industry nearly two years ago. The 10-year contract is expected to be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years if all of the options are exercised. The DOD says that it projects that user adoption will drive an estimated $210 million of spending during the two-year base period. “The DOD will rigorously review contract performance prior to the exercise of any options,” the department said in a statement.
The contract has an outsize importance because it is central to the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize its technology. Much of the military operates on 1980s and 1990s computer systems, and the Defense Department has spent billions of dollars trying to make them talk to one another.
“The National Defense Strategy dictates that we must improve the speed and effectiveness with which we develop and deploy modernized technical capabilities to our women and men in uniform,” DOD CIO Dana Deasy said in a statement. “The DOD Digital Modernization Strategy was created to support this imperative. This award is an important step in execution of the Digital Modernization Strategy.”
JEDI is not the only commercial cloud contract the DOD is pursuing. The DOD and General Services Administration announced on Aug. 29 that they awarded the potentially $7.6 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) cloud contract to a team led by CSRA, now known as General Dynamics IT, which partnered with partnering with Dell Marketing LP and Minburn Technology Group LLC. DEOS is designed to modernize the Pentagon’s productivity tools, such as word processing and spreadsheets, email, collaboration, file sharing, and storage. Those services will be run on Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. DEOS will replace DOD IT office applications with a standard, cloud-based solution across all military services.
Nonetheless, as Federal News Radio reports, JEDI has been the subject of intense controversy since it was first announced, with intense lobbying efforts, lawsuits and multiple reviews surrounding the contract.
“We brought our best efforts to the rigorous JEDI evaluation process and appreciate that DOD has chosen Microsoft,” Toni Townes-Whitley, president of U.S. regulated industries for Microsoft, said in a statement, according to FedScoop. “We are proud that we are an integral partner in DOD’s overall mission cloud strategy.”
It is unclear if AWS will protest the award. “AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion,” AWS said in a statement sent to multiple news outlets.