WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense Friday issued solicitations to Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Oracle to bid on its next major cloud initiative, the replacement for the controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract.

After a years long battle, the Pentagon scrapped the JEDI cloud contract, which would have been worth up to $10 billion over a decade. That was intended to be a single vendor effort, initially awarded to Microsoft.

Amazon, which lost to Microsoft, filed suit in court alleging in part that then-President Donald Trump interfered with the decision because of his public feud with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Instead, DoD has now opted for a multicloud environment through its new effort, known as the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC).

“You must have multicloud really to be as successful as you can be, to go with the best fit for your mission need given the varying capabilities that each of the [cloud service providers] bring to the fight in their given area,” then-acting Chief Information Officer John Sherman told reporters in July. He is now the nominee to serve in that role.

The newly announced solicitations are not quite contracts and more like requests for proposals. A DoD spokesperson said the department plans to award contracts in the third quarter of fiscal 2022.

The Friday DoD announcement noted the department anticipates awarding IDIQ contracts to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, but intends to also award to all cloud service providers that demonstrate they can meet the requirements.

The Pentagon said it only solicited four companies because market research indicated only a limited number of organizations can meet the requirements.

“Currently, the Department is aware of only five U.S.-based hyperscale [cloud service providers],” the notice said, without identifying the fifth. “Furthermore, only two of those hyperscale CSPs ― AWS and Microsoft ― appear to be capable of meeting all of the DoD’s requirements at this time, including providing cloud services at all levels of national security classification.”

According to the notice, DoD is also seeking information from additional sources to inform its acquisition strategy.

All the IDIQ contracts, through which task orders will be placed, are intended to be for a three-year base period of performance with two one-year option periods, the notice said.

DoD is still evaluating a contract ceiling for the JWCC, but projects it to be in the multibillion dollar range.

“At a high level, the JWCC requirements include providing capability and parity of service at all three classification levels, integrated cross domain solutions, global availability of tactical edge environments and enhanced cybersecurity controls,” Danielle Metz, DoD Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Information Enterprise, said.

A cloud environment is necessary for the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, which seeks to more seamlessly connect sensor information to shooters for faster decision-making.

During the JEDI delay, officials decried the legal fights, arguing troops urgently needed this critical capability.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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