The Department of Defense (DoD) said that the existing Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud project no longer meets its requirements and that it will be replaced with a new contract
Back in 2019, the US DoD announced that it was seeking to modernise its IT infrastructure by introducing the public cloud, beginning a tender process for the $10 billion JEDI contract.
Meeting the data security requirements of the US military and shifting the government’s computing power to the public cloud would be no small feat, and the contest soon became a close battle for supremacy between two of the US’s largest tech giants, Amazon’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure cloud system.
While Amazon was widely thought to be a favourite to win the contact, the JEDI project was ultimately awarded to Microsoft. Amazon quickly launched a legal challenge to the decision, arguing that then-President Donald Trump – a vocal critic of Amazon and owner Jeff Bezos in particular – had had undue influence in the decision-making process, citing “unmistakable bias” in the evaluation of the two companies.
As a result of these legal issues, the JEDI project quickly stalled, with the investigation continuing throughout 2020.
Now, rather than continuing to wrestle with litigation, the Pentagon has decided to cancel the JEDI contract altogether.
“The Department has determined that, due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances, the JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets its needs,” read a DoD statement.
In a blog post published after the announcement, Microsoft said they understood “the DoD’s rationale”, noting that the government body had faced “a difficult choice” between a “years-long litigation battle” or finding an alternative path forward.
The blog also argued for regulatory reform, suggesting that such delays to crucial government technology were unacceptable.
“The 20 months since DoD selected Microsoft as its JEDI partner highlights issues that warrant the attention of policymakers: when one company can delay, for years, critical technology upgrades for those who defend our nation, the protest process needs reform,” said Toni Townes-Whitley, president of U.S. regulated industries at Microsoft, in the blog.
Amazon, naturally, has voiced its approval for the cancellation, reiterating that it was awarded illegally.
“We understand and agree with the DoD’s decision. Unfortunately, the contract award was not based on the merits of the proposals and instead was the result of outside influence that has no place in government procurement,” said an Amazon statement.
In JEDI’s place, the DoD will now begin a new tender process for a contact called the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC).
While the possibility of offering this new contract to players such as Google, Oracle, and IBM will be considered, the DoD has said that it believes only Amazon and Microsoft have the capabilities to meet their needs.
The exact value of this new contract is not yet clear, though will surely be in the billions of dollars. While the JEDI project was expected to last for 10 years, the JWCC is set to last up to five years, with a three-year base period and two one-year extension options available.
How would this major government contact with the public cloud impact the telecoms sector? Find out from the experts at this year’s Total Telecom Congress
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