Pentagon again delays JWCC cloud mega-deal

Multi-cloud deal 'is going to take us a little bit longer than we thought,' says CIO

The United States Department of Defense has delayed awarding a contract for its massive cloud project – known as the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) – until December.

The winners of the up-to-$9 billion project were slated to be announced in April. Pentagon chief information officer John Sherman told reporters on Tuesday the delay was needed as the work required to evaluate multiple proposals simultaneously is cumbersome.

According to Sherman, the contract could see four suppliers – Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services – each score a share of the project's substantial budget.

The delays mean the Pentagon still lacks the cloud it first sought in 2018, with the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract that dangled up to $10 billion before a single cloud provider across a decade. JEDI was awarded to Microsoft, before Oracle challenged in court.

JEDI was eventually cancelled when the DoD announced it "no longer met its needs" as technology had advanced since the one-cloud-to-rule-them-all plan was conceived. The tragedy that no-one said "these are not the clouds you're looking for" is still widely mourned.

The JWCC was announced as JEDI's replacement in July 2021. Its approach of having multiple vendors instead of a singular one reflected a desire to avoid dependence on one supplier and the risks of lock-in.

The current cloud endeavor will initially offer unclassified services, before transitioning to handle info rated Secret 60 days after the contract is awarded. 180 days later, Top Secret data will be allowed in.

The contracts are slated to include initial three-year terms that can be extended for two years. After the maximum five years, the DoD will open up competition for development of a "multi-cloud".

The multi-cloud contract has also now been pushed back – from 2025 to 2026.

Despite the delay, Sherman gave assurances that within the JWCC team, "everything is going very well." ®

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