It may seem that the rules of fairness your parents taught you as children also apply to large multi-billion dollar defense contracts. This week announced the DoD that it gave four major tech companies – Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle – an equal chance to share in a $9 billion contract to take the division to the cloud.
Called the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC), the new program has a five-and-a-half-year period through 2028, with the four companies having equal opportunity to access the $9 billion in funds, but of which there are none is actually assigned as of yet for none of them.
“No funds are required at the time of grant; funds will be required for individual orders as soon as they are issued,” the department said in a statement.
“The purpose of this contract is to provide the Department of Defense with enterprise-wide, globally available cloud services across all security domains and classification levels, from the strategic level to the tactical level.”
Whether this new contract resolves the issues that arose around the original ill-fated DoD cloud purchase agreement remains unclear. For those of you unfamiliar with the saga, the DoD cloud journey has been long and twisted.
It started in 2018 when the department announced the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure or JEDI for short. Aside from the adorable Star Wars reference, the deal came under intense scrutiny for its winner-takes-all component, prompting companies to immediately sue and fight for a foothold on what was a $10 billion deal.
Oracle, which you will find has equal access to this deal, was particularly vocal, complaining that Amazon had an unfair advantage for several reasons. In the end, however, it was not Amazon that won the deal, but Microsoft. But that wasn’t the end of the story, as Amazon challenged the result in court, claiming the previous president had a bias against former Amazon board chairman (and former CEO) Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper.
After a lot of extra drama, the department finally pulled the plug in July 2021 and went back to square one.
And this week’s announcement is the culmination of that decision. The fact that it left the whole thing open this time begs the question of how this will all end up being resolved, but we’ve got five more years to sort it out and see if the DoD can finally enter the cloud era without the four big players (Real, Three and Oracle) again unhappy with who gets what.
Maybe mom really was right and life isn’t cut into equal pieces of pie.