Pentagon makes case for Return of the JEDI: There's only one cloud biz that can do the job and it starts with an A (or rhymes with loft)

DoD daleks want to exterminate Oracle's Vulcan mind-meld with White House

A robot from Battlestar Galactica

The US Department of Defense is pushing back against criticism of its proposed $10bn winner-takes-all cloud mega-deal, dubbed JEDI.

The Pentagon this week emitted a flurry of paperwork and presentations including a slide deck [PDF] on the project and an alleged fact sheet [PDF] addressing condemnation of the IT super-contract.

The response comes as JEDI finds itself in limbo pending a review of the deal by Secretary of Defense Dr Mark Esper at the order of The White House.

In the slide deck, the Pentagon addressed claims JEDI – aka the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program – was deliberately crafted to give AWS a sweetheart deal. The contract essentially calls for a single vendor to provide the Pentagon worldwide cloud services for a decade.

"The JEDI solicitation reflects the unique and critical needs of DoD, which operates on a global scale and in austere, disconnected environments," the DoD said in explaining its one-provider specification. "It is important for a warfighter in Afghanistan to access the same information as an analyst in Washington, DC or a service member training in California."

The document goes on to note that only a handful of companies on the planet can deliver cloud services on the scale Uncle Sam needs, and many of those are in China. Of the five non-Chinese providers deemed capable, four participated in JEDI bidding and two – Microsoft and AWS – made the cut for final consideration.

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Another point of contention raised was the length of the contract. While JEDI is usually described as a 10-year, $10bn plan, the DoD noted that it has the option to cancel the deal after two years if it is not going well, and the only guarantee on spending is $1m, meaning if the contract is not going as planned, the Pentagon can get out with minimal hits to its budget.

Officials also responded to the allegations that Amazon used dirty tricks, including job offers to one of the government staffers deciding the terms of the deal, in order to get the criteria for the contract tailored to AWS's strengths.

"This information was alleged in a filing before the US Court of Federal Claims, by a company that was deemed to be non-competitive," the Pentagon said in its not-so-subtle dig at Oracle, which had hoped to scoop the JEDI gig but was snubbed by Uncle Sam.

"The US Court of Federal Claims did not sustain any of these complaints. Prior to the Court’s ruling, the Department of Defense conducted its own investigations and determined that the integrity of the acquisition remains intact."

In the end, the DoD said, the JEDI requirements are in place not because they want to give Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos a gift-wrapped deal, but because it needs a wide-ranging cloud system that has all the necessary security clearances, and can work immediately without the compatibility or redundancy issues that come with a multi-vendor plan.

Besides, the DoD says, there are plenty of other Pentagon cloud contracts to be had.

"The Federal Cloud Computing Strategy – Cloud Smart strategy does not direct agencies to obtain cloud services from multiple vendors," the department argues.

"Rather, it states the following: 'agencies will need to use a variety of approaches that leverage the strength of Federal Government’s bulk purchasing power, the shared knowledge of good acquisition principles, as well as relevant risk management practices'." ®

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