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JEDI mind tricks: Brakes slammed on Pentagon's multibillion cloud deal

This may not be the vendor you're looking for – explain yourself to get your funding

A grenade in the form of an updated authorisation bill has been lobbed at the Pentagon's attempt to shift to commercial cloud.

A draft of the version of the FY19 National Defense Authorisation Bill (PDF), published on 7 May, has some stern words for the US Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Jim Mattis.

Lawmakers in the US House Armed Services Committee intend to withhold 50 per cent of the funds requested until they get a report clarifying the decision-making process.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) is a cloud programme intended for use by all branches of the US military. The lucky cloud provider would get to host unclassified, secret and top secret Defense Department data.

Back in 2014, the CIA gave Amazon Web Services the stamp of approval with an award of a procurement contract worth as much as $600m. It is understood that Amazon is the front runner for the billions on offer for hosting JEDI.

The Pentagon is determined that the multibillion-dollar contract will be a single-vendor deal, something that has, understandably, caused much anguish among cloud vendors, particularly since the deal could last as long as 10 years.

The IT Alliance for Public Sector wrote to the House Armed Services Committee on 30 April to protest the decision and request that the acquisition process be made public.

In the draft bill, lawmakers make the following request:

A description of how the approved acquisition strategy ... provides for a full and open competition, enables the Department of Defense to continuously leverage and acquire new cloud computing capabilities, maintains the ability of the Department to leverage other cloud computing vendor products and services.

The committee also asked for clarification on the standards in place at the Department of Defense for cloud computing capability and detail on the make up of the JEDI office.

Until Mattis comes up with answers, 50 per cent of the funding will be withheld, making progress on the contract challenging to say the least. ®

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