BALTIMORE — The first task orders with “secret” designations are in the works for the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier cloud computing contract, officials said, with military services, combatant commands and other national security entities expressing interest in the commercial offerings.

The Pentagon in December picked Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle for its $9 billion Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract, or JWCC, the follow-up to the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure deal, or JEDI, which foundered in 2021 after allegations of political interference.

The four companies are competing for JWCC jobs spanning unclassified, secret and top-secret designations, and are guaranteed only $100,000. Each tech giant won work in March in an initial round of awards, which were worth millions of dollars, officials said at the time.

Since then, those involved with the cloud capability have been “pinged constantly” from a “really robust mix” of prospective customers, according to Sharon Woods, the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency Hosting and Compute Center.

“In terms of the task orders, we’re seeing both unclassified and secret requirements, and we have some folks that are early in the process that are interested in the top secret, as well,” she said May 3 at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore. “So we are seeing both interest and operational at all three classification levels.”

The JWCC is meant to serve as a backbone for the Pentagon’s connect-everything campaign, known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2. It is also built to complement cloud initiatives already established by the military services. The Air Force, for example, has Cloud One and its successor, Cloud One Next.

Pentagon Chief Information Officer John Sherman on Wednesday likened the multibillion-dollar arrangement to a carrier strike group — powerful, versatile and imposing.

“Here’s the big thing: It’s from the continental U.S. out to the tactical edge,” Sherman said at the conference. “What JWCC brings to the fight is an enterprise cloud capability we’ve not had, and we need for many mission outcomes.”

At the heart of JADC2 is a demand for seamless connectivity, which officials say will enable the speedy relay of information across land, air, sea, space and cyber. The military is increasingly embracing cloud as a means to up its digital resiliency and portability.

The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity JWCC deal comprises a three-year base and one-year options, meaning work could be conducted through 2028.

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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