WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s top IT official said Wednesday that the department’s new enterprise cloud contract, known as the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, remains on schedule.

The department has laid out a quicker timeline to award the contract to vendors after the preceding enterprise cloud, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, was delayed by protests for several years, preventing the Defense Department from filling what leaders called an urgent, unmet need.

“We remain on schedule to get out ... our solicitation on or about 15 October in just a couple of months,” the Pentagon’s acting chief information officer, John Sherman, said at a FedScoop event.

The Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract will be a multivendor, multi-award project — a different approach than the single award for the JEDI cloud project. The department plans to release an initial solicitation in mid-October, and it will consider bids from Microsoft and Amazon, the two finalists from the JEDI contract, Sherman said in July. Microsoft has won the JEDI contract twice.

On Wednesday, he reiterated that the department is still targeting April 2022 for vendor awards. The department is having ongoing conversations with other major cloud providers — Google, IBM and Oracle — about the Defense Department’s requirements and the companies’ capabilities. In July, Sherman has told reporters: “If we determine that additional vendors can also meet our requirements, then we will extend solicitations to them as well.”

The JWCC contract would allow troops to access data in the unclassified, secret and top-secret classification levels from the enterprise down to the tactical battlefield environment. Sherman and other military leaders have emphasized that the enterprise cloud capability is critical to enabling the department’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept to securely pass data from sensors to war fighters.

“The Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability [is] a fundamental pillar of how we’re supporting what JADC2 is going to become,” Sherman said. “This has been an urgent and unmet requirement to have those enterprise cloud capabilities at all three security levels from conus [the contiguous United States] all the way up to the tactical edge in a DDIL [denied, degraded, intermittent or limited] environment.”

The JWCC contract will be worth billions of dollars, but the Pentagon has not specified a final amount. As of July, the department expected the JWCC contract to have a three-year base period and two one-year options. Sherman anticipates a full and open competition in 2025 for contract awards.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

More In IT/Networks