December 8, 2022
In a win for multicloud, four hyperscalers all are getting a piece of the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract.
The news comes a little more than a year after the feds scrapped the $10 billion, single-vendor Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) initiative, started in 2017. The effort would have upgraded the Pentagon’s technology to modern, cloud-centric platforms. Microsoft Azure ultimately bested AWS in the fight to become the sole cloud vendor supporting JEDI. But that determination opened the can of worms that eventually led to the DoD killing JEDI altogether.
During JEDI’s short life, Google and Oracle both got booted from contention early in the vetting process, and the final award eventually went to Microsoft. AWS insisted it lost the deal over political ill will between then-President Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. That led to protracted courtroom battles and a judge stopping Microsoft’s ability to work on JEDI. All that back-and-forth culminated in the DoD scrapping JEDI in July 2021. Officials then started over, coming up with a new, acronym-riddled initiative, JWCC, as the replacement.
Multiple Cloud Products
The DoD said on Dec. 7 that JWCC gives Pentagon agencies one contract from which to order services from multiple cloud providers. Some of the cloud computing products covered by JWCC include elastic computing, storage and network infrastructure; advanced data analytics; security; and tactical edge devices.
The JWCC contract will enable the Pentagon’s new way of fighting, FedScoop reported. That undertaking is called Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, which is “utterly reliant on having an enterprise cloud capability that operates in all three security classifications: top secret, secret, [unclassified], from the continental United States all the way out to the tactical edge,” John Sherman, DoD chief information officer, said at an event in November, according to DefenseScoop.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is managing the JWCC contract. Last month, the agency’s director of hosting and compute talked about the initiative with reporters.
“JWCC is meeting specific capability gaps in the areas of having all classification levels — so unclassified, secret and top secret, as well as tactical edge capabilities that work in those denied latency or communication-deprived environments, again, at all classification levels,” Sharon Woods said, per FedScoop. “So JWCC will provide those capabilities and more at scale. The services have matured in their cloud journey and delivered high-quality capabilities. And we see them as being complementary, not in competition.”
Winners’ Reactions to the JWCC Contract Awards
Three of the winners of the JWCC contract shared their statements with Channel Futures.
“We are honored to have been selected for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract and look forward to continuing our support for the Department of Defense,” AWS said. “From the enterprise to the tactical edge, we are ready to deliver industry-leading cloud services to enable the DoD to achieve its critical mission.”
Microsoft called the JWCC contract “a significant milestone” for the Pentagon and the agency’s efforts to modernize its technology.
“We believe the multicloud approach for JWCC is the right one for the DoD’s enterprise infrastructure,” Rick Wagner, president of Microsoft Federal, wrote in a Dec. 8 blog. “Multicloud is already an established best practice in the commercial industry … [and] Microsoft will be a key partner to the DoD as they navigate the multicloud environment and ensure seamless interoperability of systems and services.”
Finally, Oracle’s Executive Vice President Ken Glueck said the company “looks forward to continuing its long history of success with the Department of Defense. … Oracle Cloud Infrastructure will help drive the DoD’s multicloud innovation and ensure that our defense and intelligence communities have the best technology available to protect and preserve our national security.”
Google Cloud did not respond to Channel Futures’ request for a statement.
IT Pros’ Reactions to the JWCC Contract Awards
Meanwhile, on LinkedIn, several IT professionals shared their thoughts.
Dev Technology Group’s John Janek
“Who didn’t see this coming? They should have gone multi-award from the start,” said John Janek, CTO at Dev Technology Group, referring to JEDI’s single-vendor construct.
“The point of contracting is best result for the taxpayer and the government. To do that, you need competition. Exclusivity is a breeding ground for bad behaviors, and the only answer is openness, transparency and true competition,” Janek wrote.
For BUNDLAR, an AI-powered training firm, getting a piece of the JWCC pie was important, but really only possible with multiple vendors in play.
“We’re a cloud-based system, and we’re a small business. We’re pursuing military contracts. If the cloud we’re on wasn’t the one government chose, that would hurt,” wrote Matthew Wren, president, CTO and co-founder. “I’m excited to see the decision that all [four] major clouds are included, because they have different strengths.”
Meanwhile, John Weiler, CEO of the IT Acquisition Advisory Council, pointed to AWS’ temporary outage this week as evidence that the Pentagon did the right thing in killing JEDI and starting over with JWCC. The outage, he wrote, presents “[a]nother reason why federal agencies should embrace true multicloud, putting backups and data on a different platform. Establishing a single point of failure is a flawed strategy that creates unnecessary risks, while also driving up vendor lock-in and cost. For defense agencies, JWCC provides a path for embracing multicloud.”
No Immediate Funds
Notably, none of the JWCC contract’s cloud providers is getting a cut of the $9 billion right away. Instead, they’ll see revenue from individual task orders — and the companies will compete for those.
In addition, the DoD’s inclusion of Oracle is significant. At first, the Pentagon indicated uncertainty about the company’s ability to meet requirements. Despite that initial reluctance, and its small market size and revenue compared to rivals, Oracle claimed an important spot on the JWCC contract.
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