2021 in review: Out with JEDI, in with JWCC

John Sherman, Department of Defense Chief Information Officer, participates in a virtual panel, April 15, 2021.(DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

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Another year over, another year spent with all eyes on the Pentagon’s troubled move to adopt an enterprise cloud capability.

Except this time, the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract that’s dominated federal IT headlines since 2017 won’t make it out of the year intact.

For most of the last four years, the Department of Defense had pushed headstrong in the direction of a single-vendor cloud model for its enterprise IT, choosing Microsoft in late 2019 as the partner to get it there under the JEDI contract. But due to a flurry of lawsuits from Oracle and Amazon, both before and after the award of the contract, Microsoft and DOD were barred from starting their work until the courts settled the pending disputes. One of those lawsuits even reached the Supreme Court.

But, in the end, no ruling was needed as the DOD in July took matters into its own hands, canceling JEDI.

Instead, the DOD had devised a multi-cloud contract called the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) — a marked evolution from JEDI that should limit protests because of how it’s structured.

DOD CIO John Sherman told reporters the new IDIQ contract will “fill our urgent unmet requirements for a multi-vendor enterprise cloud spanning the entire department in all three security levels, with availability from [the Continental U.S.] to the tactical edge at scale. JWCC will enable us to fulfill the promise of transformational activities such as Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration or AIDA initiative.”

Even if DOD had been successful in moving JEDI into operation as intended, Sherman said, “we would have been having this multi-cloud discussion right about now anyway” due to the evolving needs of the department.

The department has issued solicitations to Amazon Web ServicesGoogle CloudMicrosoft and Oracle to bid for spots on the contract, which would then allow them to compete for task order work. This model looks very similar to the one the intelligence community is using for its own multi-cloud acquisition, the Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) program.

In total, JWCC is only intended to last about five years with a three-year base ordering period. After that, the department hopes to pursue a “larger, full-and-open” multi-cloud procurement down the road,” Sherman said.

Sharon Woods, head of Defense Information Systems Agency’s Hosting and Compute Center, which is in charge of DOD’s cloud efforts like the JWCC and milCloud 2.0, recently explained to FedScoop the evolution of the department’s thought about its cloud environment.

“Over time since 2017, both industry and the department have matured quite a bit in the way that cloud technologies are delivered and the way that the department is capable of consuming it,” Woods told FedScoop in a podcast interview. “Our people know more; industry better understands what we need. There’s more capability now around being able to maneuver across multiple cloud environments in a way that didn’t necessarily exist at that level in 2017.”

Assuming JWCC succeeds where JEDI didn’t and goes into operation in 2022, it could cause a shuffling of cloud tenancies across the DOD. Already, DISA has announced its plans to axe milCloud 2.0 next June, though DISA has expressed that the decision to cancel milCloud and the launch of JWCC are unrelated.

“Because of how much progress has happened,” Woods said, “I think that the speed that we’ll be able to deliver different capabilities at different classification levels [under JWCC] is just going to roll out quicker than it would have otherwise happened under JEDI.”

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Cloud, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Department of Defense (DOD), john sherman, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), Sharon Woods
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