The Defense Department’s information technology move to the cloud will rapidly deliver advantages to the battlefield by enabling new machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, Dana W. White, chief Pentagon spokesperson, told reporters today.
White said the existing DoD IT infrastructure is a federated legacy environment based on earlier technology.
“Transitioning from legacy systems to the cloud will improve security, data accessibility, affordability and performance for both the warfighter and business operations across the department,” she explained.
The department is best served by a highly competitive and innovative technology industrial base, she said, adding that DoD is looking for a fully interoperable, user-friendly, affordable and secure cloud solution.
“Cloud” can mean many different things to different people. Cloud computing is the use of servers pooled together to provide virtual computing, storage, and additional services. With JEDI Cloud, DoD is pursuing infrastructure and platform as a service, which is the foundational layer necessary to enable advanced capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The Cloud Contract
“Acquiring software is not like acquiring ships or planes, but we must adhere to the same acquisition language and laws,” White said. “This contract is an example of how we are modernizing the department and reforming the way we do business.”
White said she wants to separate fact from fiction, and what the cloud is and what it is not. “We are conducting a full and open competition to acquire the best cloud capability for the war fighter,” she said. “It is a single-award contract. It is not a sole-source contract, and it is not designed with a specific vendor or company in mind. In fact, multiple vendors may form a partnership to offer us a competitive solution.”
It is a two-year contract with two option periods, White said, adding that this means the initial contract award is for only two years.
“A single-award strategy is appropriate today because of the current marketplace,” White said. “After the initial two-year contract period, we will re-examine the marketplace and make a decision about the capabilities we need for the next option period,” she added.
“We are excited about the future of the DoD cloud,” White said, noting that 46 companies responded with questions to the first draft solicitation.
“We wanted competition, and now we have it,” she said. “Ultimately, we want the best cloud capability for the warfighter.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter at @MoonCronkDoD)
Featured photograph: Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director of the Joint Staff, brief reporters at the Pentagon. DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.