Pentagon cancels troubled JEDI cloud contract amid war with Amazon


Pentagon On Tuesday, he officially canceled the $10 billion “war cloud” project and Microsoft As the US military says, it will look to multiple companies to run a contract that has now become a political and legal hot potato.

The move comes in the midst of a major legal and political battle between the parties. Department of Defense and Amazon Web Servicespassed in favor, Microsoft For a 10-year deal. Amazon He claims that former President Donald Trump has publicly and privately put pressure on the United States. Pentagon To reward the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) agreement Microsoft because of his personal disdain Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos.

Pentagon He vehemently denied these accusations.

Tuesday’s decision may allow Pentagon to avoid what would certainly be a messy, protracted legal battle with Amazonwho made a formal protest for the JEDI award soon after MicrosoftSurprise victory in 2019. A recent federal court order paved the way for Mr. Trump, former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and other senior officials to face official statements as part of this lawsuit. It would likely take years for the case to work through the legal system, resulting in internal investigations being made public. Pentagon documents and private conversations Ministry of Defense leaders and former senior White House officials.

This process is also Pentagon moving forward with cloud initiative. By canceling JEDI, it seems likely that the military would establish the program sooner than it chose to continue the war. Amazon in court.

Officials on Tuesday downplayed the idea that they had definitely changed course due to the legal battle.

Instead, Pentagon The leaders said the military’s needs have evolved since then. Microsoft Won the JEDI contract in October 2019. They said that in the last 20 months, the idea of ​​using multiple companies to meet their cloud computing needs has become more practical, attractive and affordable.

“Designed with noble intent, JEDI was developed at a time when department needs were different” Pentagon Chief Information Officer John Sherman told reporters on a conference call. “Our landscape has improved and a new path ahead is guaranteed.”

But the JEDI program had been in development for years, with officials constantly voicing the benefits of centralizing large amounts of data in a single digital repository. Pentagon It published its final requests for proposals in 2018 and ultimately Amazon and Microsoft Only two companies survived.

Until recently, Department of Defense insisted that a single cloud system managed by a single private sector company was the most efficient and cost-effective approach.

But now that JEDI is dead, Mr. Sherman said: Pentagon It will begin a new cloud study known as the “Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability” or JWCC. Defense officials said they would specifically seek quotes from “limited sources”. Microsoft and Amazon.

Mr. Sherman said the two companies appeared to be the only two firms “able to meet the department’s requirements,” officials said. Department of Defense It will constantly evaluate whether there are other major cloud providers, including top names such as Google, Oracle and IBM – may also take part in the business.

fighting in the cloud

While individual military services like the military have their own cloud systems, military-scoped clouds like JEDI and the new JWCC effort will offer unique capabilities. Such an all-encompassing cloud system, for example, allows commanders from around the world to share real-time data with their service members in the field in wartime.

Mr Sherman said the effort is also vital to AI programs and other cutting-edge initiatives that rely on real-time data from a range of sources. AI programs in particular will need the fastest connectivity to multiple sources, and a massive cloud covering the entire US military is seen as the only way to achieve this.

Pentagon Officials and some private analysts have expressed concern about the speed with which China is incorporating artificial intelligence into its expanding military arsenal.

“Nothing is currently doing what is envisioned in the JWCC,” said Mr. Sherman.

Microsoft He said he was determined to work with Pentagon. But the company has also taken some fine shots. Amazon for his continued protest.

“we understand Ministry of Defenseand we support them and any military member who needs the critical 21st century technology that JEDI will provide”, Toni Townes-Whitley, MicrosoftThe US head of regulated industries wrote in a blog post Tuesday afternoon. “ Ministry of Defense faced with a difficult choice: continue a decades-long lawsuit battle or find another way forward. The security of the United States is more important than a single contract, and we know Microsoft The nation will do well when it is good. ”

“When a company can delay critical technology updates for years for those who defend our nation, the protest process needs reform,” Ms Townes-Whitley said. “Amazon He filed his protest in November 2019 and was expected to take at least another year for his case to file a lawsuit and make a decision, and potential appeals were subsequently filed.”

Amazon He said he agreed with Pentagon‘s decision to shelve the project in its current form.

“Our commitment to supporting our country’s military and ensuring that our fighters and defense partners have access to the best technology at the best price is stronger than ever before,” he said. Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to support” Ministry of Defensemodernization efforts and building solutions that help them fulfill their critical mission.”

Microsoft he can try to get his money back Pentagon It’s about the work already being done at JEDI. Mr Sherman said these details are still being worked out.

Mr. Sherman further stated that the new cloud plan will be a temporary measure and Pentagon It wants to establish a more permanent system by 2025.

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