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IBM files JEDI protest

IBM is protesting the Defense Department's $10 billion, 10-year cloud solicitation, saying the plan is anti-competitive and technologically flawed.

Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal, said in an Oct. 10 blog post that the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure solicitation was flawed because its single-cloud mandate "denies America's warfighters access to the best technology available across multiple vendors, complicates the integration of legacy applications and walls off access to future innovations."

Gordy also complained that JEDI as currently constituted would give cyber adversaries a single point of attack to bring down the defense IT backbone. While large institutions adopt multi-cloud strategies for reasons of security, Gordy said, "the Pentagon is moving in precisely the opposite direction."

IBM also sees the deal as anti-competitive, and tilted in favor of a particular vendor – unnamed but most likely Amazon Web Services. In his post, Gordy notes that the requirements "arbitrarily narrow the field of bidders."

IBM will submit a bid for the JEDI contract, one that "provides our warfighters as much flexibility and innovation as possible within the scope of the JEDI solicitation," Gordy wrote. However, IBM is hoping its bid protest with the Government Accountability Office will succeed in changing the scope of the JEDI requirements.

IBM isn't alone in objecting to JEDI. Oracle is protesting the deal as well. Google recently announced it was bowing out of the bidding, citing possible ethical objections to lethal AI and a set of requirements that Google could not currently meet – presumably approval to host secret and top secret data.

Microsoft announced on Oct. 9 that it planned to launch its first "secret region" on its Azure cloud to host classified government data in the first quarter of 2019, and planned to launch a top secret offering as well. This suggests that Microsoft, as expected, is planning to bid on the JEDI contract. Amazon is seen as the likely frontrunner for the award, in part because of its work supporting classified activities for the CIA and the intelligence community.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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