CLOUD

DOD drops final solicitation for $10B JEDI cloud

The Defense Department has unveiled the much-anticipated final solicitation for its massive and controversial "JEDI" cloud computing infrastructure contract only two weeks after DOD's chief information officer indicated it had slowed down the effort.

Questions pertaining to this final request for proposals are due by 11 a.m. on Aug. 16 and all bids must be in by 10 a.m. Eastern time on Sept. 17, DOD said in the FedBizOpps notice to release the final RFP. An anticipated award date was not given but DOD officials have previously indicated it would be before the end of the year, absent any pre-award protest by a prospective bidder.

At a $10 billion ceiling over up to 10 years, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract remains a single-award procurement despite objections from federal IT industry trade groups and other critics that believe a multiple-award strategy is more in line with commercial practices.

Both draft solicitations for the JEDI acquisition have made clear that DOD wants a commercial cloud environment for both infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service. DOD has largely kept to its strategy for JEDI and this final RFP shows few major changes to the acquisition approach.

Industry analysts have highlighted Amazon Web Services as the favorite for JEDI and some observers have claimed the effort is being tailored for AWS, the dominant cloud provider in the government market.

AWS is seen as the favorite as it holds both the CIA cloud hosting contract and certifications to host government data at nearly every classification level. Previously-released contracting documents for JEDI indicate it will host intelligence information and nuclear weapon design information, among other sensitive areas.

Microsoft is one potential JEDI bidder some analysts see as not far behind AWS. In May, Microsoft received a six-year pact worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" to give intelligence agencies access to its cloud product portfolio that includes Azure Government and Office 365.

Microsoft is in the midst of adding more regions to its Azure Government Secret environment to expand support across more data classifications. IBM also plans to pursue the JEDI contract as a prime and is "fully engaged in the capture process," Big Blue's federal lead Sam Gordy told WT in June.

JEDI's envisioned user base covers 3.4 million end users, more than 4 million endpoint devices and 1,700 data centers. DOD already has 500 ongoing cloud initiatives and JEDI is seen by many as an effort to consolidate those efforts.

That said, DOD officials have indicated this contract will cover less than one-fifth of its overall cloud requirements. JEDI's impact on the milCloud 2.0 effort run by the Defense Information Systems Agency also remains to be seen, as so-called "fourth estate" defense agencies other than the services are being prioritized for migration to milCloud 2.0.

General Dynamics holds the $498 million contract for milCloud 2.0 and inherited it through the April acquisition of CSRA.

On July 11, DOD CIO Dana Deasy told attendees at the Defense Systems Summit that staffers were directed to "pause" on JEDI shortly after he took office in May and the effort was undergoing a "full top-down, bottom-up review" before the final RFP's release. Deasy took control of all DOD cloud initiatives in June.

And just on Monday, the House and Armed Services Committee released a long conference report on the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that includes requests for more information on DOD's overall cloud strategy and what impact JEDI will have on existing military networks.

In a letter accompanying the final JEDI RFP, Deasy addressed concerns that JEDI would represent the start of a shift away from DOD's current multiple-cloud environment. That multiple-cloud environment will always be such, Deasy said, "but we need to do better in applying an enterprise approach to that environment."

Also included in the final RFP is a separate justification for the single-award approach dated July 19 signed by Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.

Lord cited DOD's recognition that technologies "such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are fundamentally changing the character of war" and leveraging them "at scale and at a tempo relevant to warfighters requires significant computing and data storage in a common environment."

"JEDI Cloud is an acquisition for foundational commercial cloud technologies that will enable warfighters to better execute a mission that is increasingly dependent on the exploitation of information," she added.

JEDI's overall ordering duration is broken out into an initial two-year base period that starts in April 2019, absent any post-award protests. That is followed by a three-year option period, then another three-year option period and lastly a final two-year option period. All task orders will be awarded on a firm-fixed-price basis.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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