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JWCC Invites Notably Include Google Cloud, Oracle, But Where’s IBM?

Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are shoo-ins. IBM? Not so much, apparently.

Kelly Teal

November 23, 2021

3 Min Read
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The U.S. Department of Defense has invited four hyperscalers to bid on the multibillion-dollar Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract.

That’s a 180-degree turnaround after all the controversy over the single-vendor, $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) initiative. Over the life of that effort, Google and Oracle both got booted from contention, 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 this past July. Officials soon started over, coming up with JWCC as the replacement.

Now, as JWCC gets off the ground, the feds are soliciting Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and, significantly, Google Cloud and Oracle for JWCC proposals.

No IBM?

Notably, IBM’s name does not appear on the list. In August, Big Blue ranked among the companies in talks with the Pentagon over whether capabilities would meet requirements. And yet, the vendor remains conspicuously absent from the DoD invitation. IBM told Federal News Network it plans to “continue pursuing opportunities to support JWCC.”

Meantime, JWCC should not stir up nearly the level of discord that JEDI did. That’s because Google and Oracle both are involved this time, and rivals AWS and Microsoft each hold what essentially amounts to golden tickets. Those two will, for sure, come away with responsibility for building JWCC infrastructure and services.

“Market research indicates that a limited number of sources are capable of meeting the department’s requirements,” the U.S. General Services Administration writes in its Original Notice calling for JWCC bids. “Currently, the department is aware of only five U.S.-based hyperscale CSPs. Furthermore, only two of those hyperscale CSPs – AWS and Microsoft – appear to be capable of meeting all of the DoD’s requirements at this time, including providing cloud services at all levels of national security classification.”

Multiple Vendors This Time Around

Russell Goemaere, a Pentagon spokesman, told Federal News Network that the department “assessed each CSP’s service and capability offerings as they related to the department’s unfulfilled warfighting needs, enduring capability gaps, high-level JWCC requirements and each CSP’s ability to meet the JWCC capability delivery schedule. We also collaborated with DoD stakeholders from the military services, combatant commands, principal staff assistants, defense agencies and field activities to survey requirement owners about what they would want to see in an enterprise-level cloud offering,” he said.

Unlike JEDI, JWCC will use multiple vendors.

“[T]he government will solicit and negotiate to award a contract to all responsible vendors that are deemed capable of meeting the requirements,” the U.S. GSA document reads.

Also unlike JEDI, JWCC contracts will last for a limited time. They will run for 36 months with two 12-month options. The cloud providers that gain spots can compete for more work under a larger project yet to be fleshed out. The cost of all that activity remains in question.

“The Department is still evaluating the contract ceiling for this procurement, but anticipates that a multibillion dollar ceiling will be required,” the U.S. GSA noted.

JWCC will deliver modern, cloud-based technology to the various branches of the Defense Department, most of which continue to operate on outdated systems. Observers say using old platforms not only wastes money but also poses a security risk. And given President Biden’s mandate that government agencies beef up cybersecurity standards, continuing to invest in legacy approaches makes little sense.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

 

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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