Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, May 20, 2022

As Cloud Fight Looms, DoD Sees Some Progress 

While vendors jockey for position to win a massive commercial cloud contract with the Defense Department, uptake on an existing military cloud platform is building.

Pentagon agencies are shifting operations to MilCloud 2.0 at a faster than expected pace, John Hale, chief of enterprise applications at the Defense Information Systems Agency, told a recent industry conference. DISA awarded a $498 million contract last year to CSRA to provide commercial cloud services to the military services and defense agencies. (CSRA was acquired by General Dynamics in April.)

MilCloud 2.0 gained provisional operational authority in March, meaning it can now handle the highest levels of unclassified DoD data. Since then, Hale said DISA has seen a several-fold increase in volume on MilCloud 2.0. “It shows there is a lot of demand for cloud capabilities inside the department,” he said in remarks first reported by Federal New Radio.

MilCloud 2.0 is designed to link commercial cloud services to DoD networks, and Hale described the certified cloud platform as a “gateway capability” as military agencies gradually shift away from traditional datacenters to the cloud. “MilCloud 2 provides them a little bit of a comfort factor because the data stays on premise,” Hale added.

The platform is seen as a forerunner of a much larger—and controversial—DoD cloud effort called JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure). Cloud vendors have challenged DoD plans to award the $10 billion JEDI contract to a single vendor. Program officials are expected to release a congressionally-mandated justification for the single-source award on Monday (May 7).

A final request for proposals for the JEDI program is expected by the end of May. A contract award could come as early as September. As with most large government procurements, observers anticipate the contract award to a single vendor will touch off a round of formal protests.

Responding to industry complaints, the Pentagon recently scaled back a $950 million cloud migration services contract awarded to a small northern Virginia systems integrator, REAN Cloud. DoD acquisition officials quietly announced in March that the ceiling for the cloud migration contract had been reduced to just $65 million.

As cloud vendors gear up for the coming battle for the JEDI contract, DISA officials note that the three-year MilCloud 2.0 contract is designed, in Hale’s words, to “encourage commercial parity” in supplying cloud services to the Pentagon.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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