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First shot fired in 'The Battle of the Titans'

Shots fired in Battle of the titans

Lexington Park, MD - Cloud Computing is big business. It brings efficiencies and cost savings for commercial companies by lessening the need and dependence for costly Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. The computing is performed on remote servers, in a cloud service provider's "cloud" environment. Companies can purchase their infrastructure-as-a-service directly from them.

The Department of Defense needs a lot of IT. A request for proposal (RFP) was signed off by Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, and released July 26. It frames the problem. "A fragmented and largely on premises computing and storage solution (The current state of affairs) forces the warfighter into tedious data and application management processes,compromising their ability to rapidly access, manipulate analyze data on the homefront and tactical edge" 

This RFP is for a decade long single-award for a $10 billion procurement known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program or more affectionately known as JEDI. In a statement accompanying the RFP project lead Dana Deasy, the DOD's chief information officer (CIO) called JEDI "an initiative that will revolutionize how we fight and win wars."

Sounds like a plan, but just days after the RFP was released a protest was issued by one of the IT Cloud titans - Oracle inc. -who say that there should be multiple awards. The other titans of cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), and IBM are all expected to respond.

The single-award strategy has also drawn negative attention on Capitol Hill where congress added reporting and other requirements on DOD that impact funding on IT infrastructure moving forward.

In June the Senate Committee on Armed Services demanded in its version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that the DOD abide by a regulation that requires the government to award contracts like JEDI to multiple vendors whenever possible. The House committee on appropriations insisted that DOD be more transparent in its winner-take-all approach.

Oracle is objecting arguing that a single award is irrational and violates procurement laws. "The single-award approach is contrary to industry's multi-cloud strategy, which promotes competition, fosters innovation and lowers prices" according to Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger. 

The DOD will have to provide an answer on whether the protest will impact the due date of Sept. 17 for final proposals.

At the time of writing the leading contenders for JEDI in its current form are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM.

High stakes and big players for the Battle for the JEDI. At this time the Pentagon is sticking to the single-award plan for the contract. One would assume that many lobbying firms will be very active behind the scenes. 

Contact Martin Fairclough at m.fairclough@thebaynet.com

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