Return of the JEDI: Pentagon’s multicloud sequel puts Microsoft and Amazon in leading roles

Andy Jassy, the new Amazon CEO, was critical of the Pentagon’s previous decision to award the $10 billion JEDI contract to Microsoft in his prior role as CEO of Amazon Web Services. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

The U.S. Department of Defense is soliciting bids from multiple companies to upgrade its technology capabilities with the benefit of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analysis and other hallmarks of modern cloud platforms.

The Pentagon’s new Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) program is a replacement for its previous $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, which was awarded to Microsoft, to the outrage of Amazon.

That lead to disputes, litigation, allegations of presidential corruption, and ultimately the cancelation of the whole thing.

Andy Jassy, the new Amazon CEO, was outspoken on the issue as the leader of Amazon’s cloud business at the time.

In a departure from the prior single-vendor contract, the Pentagon this time is spreading its cloud around. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle have been solicited to submit bids for the work, which will go to multiple companies. In addition, the government is not putting an overall value on the contracts.

“Preserving national defense requires immediate action,” the DoD says in a statement of requirements. “Therefore, the Secretary of Defense has initiated a series of enterprise initiatives that are designed to bring greater urgency, focus, and unity of effort within the Department to address China as our number one pacing challenge. These initiatives will give our Warfighters the operational advantage to prevail in peace and to win in conflict.”

Here’s an excerpt from the notice.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has a requirement to purchase commercial cloud service offerings and support services. See attached “Required Capabilities” description for additional detail.  The anticipated result will be to award multiple Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contracts under FAR Part 16. However, the Department is also seeking information from potential additional sources to better inform its acquisition strategy.

The Government anticipates awarding two IDIQ contracts — one to Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) and one to Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) — but intends to award to all Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that demonstrate the capability to meet DoD’s requirements. Each IDIQ contract, under which task orders will be placed, is intended to be for a period of performance of one 36-month base period with two 12-month option periods.  The Department is still evaluating the contract ceiling for this procurement, but anticipates that a multi-billion dollar ceiling will be required. The contract ordering ceiling will be included in any directed solicitations issued to vendors.

We’ve contacted both Amazon and Microsoft for comment on the new bidding process.

As reported by CNBC, Google Cloud plans to bid for a piece of the work despite employee pushback over its work on government and military contracts.

Read the full statement of required capabilities below.

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