WASHINGTON — Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle will duke it out for each order stemming from the Pentagon’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, an arrangement defense officials said will promote price and product competition.
While exactly how many orders will be made on the potential $9 billion contract is not known, the task order competition process should take weeks or “maybe a few months” to execute, depending on the specifics and lessons learned along the way, Sharon Woods, the Defense Information Systems Agency Hosting and Compute Center director, told reporters Dec. 8.
The four tech giants were selected for the highly anticipated commercial cloud computing deal on Dec. 7. The agreements comprise a three-year base with one-year options, meaning work could be conducted through 2028.
Each company is only guaranteed $100,000, according to terms of the deal.
JWCC is meant to link the military’s most remote edge with its farthest headquarters while bridging unclassified, secret and top-secret classifications. It is also meant to complement ongoing cloud ventures led by the various military services.
It arrives, too, at a time when pressure is mounting to more effectively process and pass information to forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber — what’s known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The multibillion-dollar notion demands seamless connectivity and access to resources no matter the location.
“What does this bring to us? First thing is, it brings us really cutting-edge cloud capabilities, to the entire department here,” Pentagon CIO John Sherman said. “Now, we’ve got other types of clouds here within the department. But none of them do this at all three security classification levels, spanning the entire enterprise from the continental United States all the way up to what we call the tactical edge, way out, whether it’s western Pacific or Eastern Europe or onboard a ship.”
The JWCC ink dried roughly a year and half after the Pentagon axed its predecessor, the troubled Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure venture. The $10 billion JEDI, as it was known, was awarded solely to Microsoft but was scuttled amid a feud between Amazon and the Trump administration, which the company accused of political interference.
JWCC is better suited for the times and needs of the Pentagon, according to Sherman, because it relies on multiple vendors and the resiliency that comes with it.
“It creates more offerings,” he said, “different kinds of best-athlete capabilities.”
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.