JEDI award expected in August

The Defense Department is expecting to award its first major cloud contract by the end of August despite ongoing legal challenges.

The Defense Department expects to make an award in its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract by the end of August.

DOD CIO Dana Deasy said at the Defense Writers Group breakfast June 25 that the timing of the award isn't contingent on the outcome of a lawsuit from Oracle in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims looking to change the requirements of the JEDI procurement.

"We're not waiting on a decision [in federal claims court] so that it impacts the source selection process," Deasy said.

Microsoft and AWS are the final two companies vying for the contract.

The DOD CIO emphasized that any delay in the contract award would create major setbacks for the services and warfighter.

Deasy said his biggest concern is "if JEDI gets delayed" because "there are active sets of programs that the combatant commands are depending on when that contract gets released."

U.S. Transportation Command is one of them, he said, and it is "actively developing a set of next-generation applications" for JEDI. "TRANSCOM's ability to upgrade and move to next-generation application is absolutely imperative for the department."

"If JEDI was to get further delayed, guess what happens? Now you're back to the model where people need to go build their own cloud solutions," he said. "That does not serve the Department of Defense well; it does not serve the warfighter well."

Deasy said he doesn't know what an exact contingency plan in case of delays looks like, but it would be whatever is needed to support warfighter missions.

Building cloud-ready applications

With JEDI soon becoming a reality, Deasy said his office's top priority is educating the combatant commands and services. Right now, DOD is doing "an awareness campaign," informing personnel and combatant commands on the construct but delaying technical training until the contract is awarded. Only then will services be in a position to determine which projects will first migrate to JEDI.

"Now that we're getting closer, it's the logical time to sit down with the various services, start to describe what we believe a general-purpose cloud environment will start to look like and, more importantly for them, to start to think about what activity set will they have coming up this fall and going into next year that might be a good candidate," he said.

How the JEDI cloud shapes up will depend on the cloud service provider chosen for the contract and personnel training to take advantage of it, Deasy said. Still, the department needs more people who can oversee the cloud's implementation, infrastructure, security, software and, more importantly, application builders.

"We need to have people who know how to provide oversight and that know-how to work with the services to identify opportunities that are well suited for a general-purpose cloud," Deasy said. DOD is also focused on improving its ability to design applications for a cloud environment.

"That's the area where I want us to quickly move to," Deasy said. "The exciting part of all this is the speed of which we will be able to stand up new capabilities for the warfighter."

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