Pen­tagon sticks with sin­gle cloud con­tract

But the US De­fense Depart­ment doesn’t say why

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Digital Trend -

WASH­ING­TON: The US De­fense Depart­ment isn’t budg­ing from its de­ci­sion to award a sin­gle con­tract for a cloud-com­put­ing project val­ued in bil­lions of dol­lars – and isn’t say­ing why – in a pub­lic ex­change with ven­dors over de­tails of the pro­posal.

The Pen­tagon on Mon­day posted an­swers to 1,089 ques­tions raised by 46 com­pa­nies, two as­so­ci­a­tions and three gov­ern­ment agen­cies. The com­ments were posted anony­mously with the mil­i­tary’s re­sponse along­side each en­try.

Ri­val con­trac­tors com­plain that the win­ner-take-all ap­proach favours Ama­zon.com Inc, the big­gest sup­plier of cloud ser­vices. But Pen­tagon of­fi­cials made clear they have lit­tle pa­tience for con­tin­u­ing de­bate over the is­sue.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion on the “ra­tio­nale for a sin­gle award for this con­tract,” the an­swer posted was blunt: “This ra­tio­nale is not go­ing to be pub­lished at this time.”

In an in­ter­view on Mon­day, Tim Van Name, deputy di­rec­tor of the De­fense Dig­i­tal Ser­vice, which is over­see­ing the con­tract com­pe­ti­tion, said “I don’t see the value” of more ex­changes be­cause “we’ve made it clear that we are go­ing for­ward with a sin­gle award” and “it is not some­thing that we be­lieve is up for de­bate with in­dus­try.”

“It was a de­ci­sion the depart­ment made based on its needs, so adding con­text there doesn’t ben­e­fit us,” he said.

The process for select­ing a win­ner would in­clude in­put from com­mit­tees “heav­ily filled with folks who are tech­ni­cal ex­perts – rep­re­sen­ta­tive across the ser­vices,” Van Name said. These ex­perts “un­der­stand the tech­nolo­gies and spe­cific depart­ment needs.”

The gov­ern­ment also is­sued a re­vised draft pro­posal, clar­i­fy­ing spe­cific re­quire­ments that must be met under FedRamp, or the Fed­eral Risk and Au­tho­ri­sa­tion Man­age­ment Pro­gramme, a frame­work for han­dling un­clas­si­fied data, Van Name said.

Tech com­pa­nies jock­ey­ing for a piece of the con­tract ar­gue that a sin­gle-source ap­proach will sti­fle in­no­va­tion and in­crease se­cu­rity risks.

Or­a­cle Corp has been lead­ing a cam­paign along with other tech gi­ants to un­seat Ama­zon Web Ser­vices as the per­ceived front-run­ner for the job, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

The Pen­tagon re­it­er­ated that while it would award a sin­gle con­tract, the even­tual win­ner could be made up of a team of com­pa­nies.

The con­tract, known as JEDI – for the the Joint En­ter­prise De­fense In­fras­truc­ture Cloud Pro­gramme – wouldn’t pre­vent the De­fense Depart­ment from work­ing with other cloud ven­dors in the fu­ture, Lieu­tenant Colonel Kaight Mey­ers, pro­gramme man­ager for the cloud ini­tia­tive, said in a let­ter posted along with the com­ments and re­sponses and the re­vised pro­posal.

“JEDI Cloud is in­tended to be avail­able en­ter­prise-wide and com­ple­men­tary to other ex­ist­ing cloud ini­tia­tives. It will not pre­clude the re­lease of fu­ture con­tract­ing ac­tions,” Mey­ers said.

Cloud ser­vices – in which com­put­ing power and stor­age are hosted in re­mote data cen­tres run by a third-party com­pany rather than on-site in lo­cally owned ma­chines – can make it eas­ier for large or­gan­i­sa­tions to move and in­te­grate data across dif­fer­ent plat­forms, quickly ex­pand the data stor­age it needs based on usage and make sys­tem-wide se­cu­rity up­grades to soft­ware.

The De­fense Depart­ment has said it’s mak­ing the shift to the cloud to give it a tac­ti­cal edge in the bat­tle­field and strengthen its use of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies.

The depart­ment planned to is­sue the fi­nal re­quest for pro­posal by May 15 and award the con­tract by the end of Septem­ber, Van Name said.

“We are play­ing catch-up” to in­dus­try on adopt­ing the cloud, he said.

We’ve made it clear that we are go­ing for­ward with a sin­gle award and it is not some­thing that we be­lieve is up for de­bate with in­dus­try. Tim Van Name

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