The Pentagon’s Cloud War is (Finally) Nearing Conclusion


Following the end of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, a new effort is taking shape.

The Defense Department began 2021 notifying Congress that it could abandon its years-long Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract should litigation continue to delay its execution.

In July, six months later, the Pentagon did just that, pulling the plug on JEDI four years after the contract was conceived in an effort to deliver enterprisewide commercial cloud services at sensitive, secret and top secret classification levels.

The cancelation came after years of legal challenges, congressional inquiries and other delays that ultimately kept JEDI from ever getting off the ground, despite being awarded two different times to Microsoft.

“With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps,” a DOD spokesperson told Nextgov July 6.

From JEDI’s ashes, Pentagon officials conceptualized a new framework from which to deliver commercial cloud services to Defense personnel: the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, or JWCC. The new multibillion-dollar effort signaled a pivot from the Pentagon’s decision to make JEDI a single-award contract—a decision that ultimately led to numerous legal challenges—instead favoring a multi-award vehicle. The multi-award approach allows several commercial cloud providers that meet the Defense Department’s security requirements to compete for specific task orders under JWCC. The approach mirrors one undertaken by the intelligence community through its Commercial Cloud Enterprise, or C2E contract.

In November, the Pentagon announced it had issued formal solicitations for JWCC to four commercial cloud companies: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google and Oracle. While solicitations alone do not ensure an award, they were based on extensive assessments conducted by the Defense Department in the latter half of 2021.

“We assessed each cloud service provider’s ability to meet the JWCC high-level requirements and projected capability delivery schedule, as outlined in the presolicitation notice,” Pentagon Spokesperson Russ Goemaere told Nextgov. “We had open dialogue with U.S.-based hyperscale CSPs and gave fair opportunity to the CSPs to submit their capability statements as they relate to the JWCC high-level requirements.”

The Pentagon did not rule out future solicitations to other companies, but expressed confidence that its market research “was exhaustive and resulted in a fair and reasonable final determination.”

The Pentagon plans to make JWCC awards in the third quarter of fiscal 2022.