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US Department of Defense backs multi-cloud model to support $10bn JEDI mega-cloud deployment

The US Department of Defense has fleshed out its cloud strategy, as the industry awaits news of who has secured the decade-long contract for its $10bn mega-cloud environment

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has confirmed it will pursue a multi-cloud strategy to plug any functionality gaps that emerge once its controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) mega-cloud deployment goes live.

The organisation, which manages the US armed forces, made the disclosure in an 18-page cloud strategy document that fleshes out the use cases for JEDI and sets the scene for how it will fit in with the department’s wider cloud ambitions.

For example, the document states that JEDI will, effectively, form the cornerstone of its cloud strategy by acting as a “general-purpose” single-supplier environment where the “majority” of its systems and applications will be hosted.

Its aim is to help the department unify and streamline its current IT systems, which are described in the document as being made up of “multiple disjointed and stove-piped systems distributed across modern and legacy infrastructure around the globe”.

The amount of data these systems have to handle is growing exponentially, leading to a “litany of problems” as they creak under the weight, which, the DoD claims, could affect its “warfighters’” decision-making abilities.

To address this, the department has already begun deploying cloud technologies, but, again, this has occurred in a “disjointed” manner, resulting in a need to create a single “general-purpose” cloud where most of its systems and applications can reside.

“Organisations within DoD that have previously implemented their own cloud will work with the office of the DoD CIO to determine the best way to integrate their efforts with the department’s enterprise cloud strategy,” the strategy document says.

“Where it makes sense that a standalone cloud environment should be migrated to the department’s general-purpose cloud, a thoughtful migration approach will be developed that does not disrupt existing contracts.”

At the moment, the organisation is weighing up bids from a number of high-profile firms that are vying to be awarded the decade-long JEDI contract, which is valued at $10bn.

The single-supplier nature of the contract has attracted criticism from some prospective providers, including IBM and Oracle, who have claimed the proposed setup unfairly favours Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Read more about government cloud deployments

Microsoft, meanwhile, found itself under alleged pressure in October 2018 from its own staff to drop out of the running for the contract over concerns that its participation could lead to its technologies being used to “wage wars”. Google is thought to have exited the bidding process for similar reasons.

On the single-supplier front, though, the DoD reveals elsewhere in the document that it will be open to opportunities to bring in technologies from other cloud providers in instances where the general-purpose cloud is insufficient to support “mission needs”.

“The department must address [its] unique mission requirements through a multi-cloud, multi-vendor strategy,” it states.

These providers will be referred to as providing fit-for-purpose solutions, and could include software-as-a-service (SaaS) products from multiple providers, but their deployment will need to be justified and approved before they can be launched, the document states.

“The primary implementation bias for DoD will be to utilise general-purpose cloud computing. Only when mission needs cannot be supported by general purpose will fit for purpose alternatives be explored,” the document continues.

“They should still support networking with the general purpose cloud environment, as well as with other fit-for-purpose solutions through modern commercial cloud capabilities for both inter-cloud and cross-domain communication.”

Initially, at least, the project will fall under the remit of the office of the DoD CIO to oversee, but, once the general-purpose and fit-for-purpose deployments have fully bedded in, there is scope for responsibility for managing them to be passed on elsewhere.

“The DoD CIO will establish an enterprise cloud organisation with appropriate leadership and the required governance forums to ensure that overall objectives and implementation plans as described in this strategy are enacted,” the document says.

“The department must strive for a cloud-first bias on all future application development/implementations… leaving systems running on legacy infrastructure or other legacy technology must be the exception, not the standard.”

Read more on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

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