At a press conference Ars attended today, Department of Defense officials discussed the benefits of partnering with Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon to build the Pentagon’s new cloud computing network. The multi-cloud strategy has been described as a necessary measure to keep military personnel current as technology advances and managers’ familiarity with cloud technology has matured.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner says the $9 billion Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract will help rapidly expand cloud capabilities across defense departments. He described new acceleration capabilities such as preconfigured templates and infrastructure as code that will ensure that even “people who don’t understand the cloud can take advantage of cloud technologies.” Such capabilities could help ground troops easily access data collected by unmanned aircraft or space communications satellites.
“JWCC is a multi-award contractual vehicle that will provide DOD with the ability to acquire commercial cloud services and capabilities directly from commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) at mission speed, at all classification levels, from headquarters to the tactical periphery,” the DOD press release said.
Until now, managers did not have direct access to cloud providers and military personnel located around the world did not have cloud technology capable of providing access to files at all three classification levels: unclassified, secret and top-secret. With the JWCC, that has changed, and now the Department of Defense expects to be able to pass on intelligence more quickly.
How tech companies will split the contract
The $9 billion contract is expected to be completed by June 2028 and will not be split evenly between Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon. Instead, each company has been guaranteed $100,000 and will have to bid for its share of the rest of the budget. Department of Defense officials say this would create price competition, just like in industry, and each job order requiring cloud services will be carefully weighed to identify the best solution. A government evaluation team will select suppliers based on the best price and technology based on mission requirements.
Microsoft – which originally entered into a $10 billion deal with the Pentagon to provide cloud services, which Reuters said was scrapped last year so the Pentagon could pursue more advanced technologies – backed the multi-pronged strategy. -DOD cloud. Microsoft Federal President Rick Wagner wrote in a blog today that “the multi-cloud approach for JWCC is the right one for DOD’s enterprise infrastructure.”
“Multi-cloud is already an established best practice in the commercial industry, as it allows organizations to maximize flexibility, improve resiliency, and access the best technologies among vendors,” Wagner wrote.
Wagner called the JWCC contract a “significant milestone” and pledged that “Microsoft will help deliver critical 21st century technology to our nation’s service members and strengthen the national security of the United States.”
Ars also contacted other JWCC suppliers. Each offered similar statements, while none yet seemed ready to discuss bidding strategies. Karen Dahut, CEO of Google Public Sector, said Google was “proud to be selected”. Oracle Executive Vice President Ken Glueck told Ars, “Designed to enable interoperability, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure will help drive DOD’s multi-cloud innovation and ensure that our defense and intelligence communities have the best technology available to protect and preserve our national security.” A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told Ars, “From the enterprise to the tactical edge, we stand ready to deliver industry-leading cloud services to enable DOD to accomplish its critical mission.”
Competition for the rest of the $9 billion will likely be fierce, and the Pentagon expects to cut costs because of it. Analysts told AP News that tech companies viewed the Pentagon contract as “a stamp of approval in a market where ensuring the security of a customer’s data is important.”
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