The impact of JEDI delays

cloud computing ( 

As the DOD's $10 billion cloud procurement winds through a complicated protest lawsuit, the Pentagon's top tech officer told Congress that delays compound problems of federation and sprawl.

"The longer we delay standing up a JEDI capability," DOD CIO Dana Deasy told House lawmakers at a Feb. 26 hearing, "the military services are going to need to go solve for mission sets and they're going to continue to stand up in their own individual environments and I don't see that as being beneficial over the long term to the Department."

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, noted that he'd only learned about the most recent curve ball in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure story – a delay in a pre-award protest lawsuit to re-investigate a conflict of interest claim – via a press statement.

"It would be an understatement to say that I was frustrated," Langevin said, and asked Deasy for a commitment to keep subcommittee staff up to date.

A federal judge issued a stay in Oracle's lawsuit against DOD on Feb. 19. Oracle is alleging that employees with ties to Amazon Web Services tilted the procurement to favor the cloud giant. The DOD agreed to take a second look at possible conflicts involving former AWS executive and Defense Digital Services employee Deap Ubhi, based on new information that had recently come to light. There's no public schedule for the probe, but DOD was directed by the judge to report back within five days of any new finding.

The Pentagon is in the midst of winnowing down the bids in JEDI through a "competitive range process" that will eliminate vendors that don't meet the basic requirements spelled out in the solicitation. According to a partially redacted Feb 19 court filing, the JEDI contracting officer is delaying a competitive range determination until the conflict of interest issue is resolved. A final award won't be made until three months after the competitive range decision.

Deasy said there were about 300 initiatives across DOD that fall under general-purpose cloud and do not need "a unique cloud stack." Those kinds of projects can be best fit under the JEDI umbrella when it is operational. But until that time, he said, it does not make sense for DOD and the military services to hit pause on cloud.

"Until we can get a direct line of sight as to how soon we'll be able to stand up a general-purpose cloud capability, obviously, the cloud initiatives need to continue," Deasy said. "As soon as we know within line of sight of what I'll say, probably within 60 days of when we think we'll actually be able to go live, then we'll be able to go back to some of the early portions of those cloud initiatives, where they're still in the early days, and redirect them. That is our intent."

The challenge, he said, "is not to impede the need for mission success where people are standing up on the cloud, but as soon as we can provide clarity to the DOD on when the enterprise cloud will be available, to then redirect those activities onto JEDI."

Deasy also addressed the issue of what to do with legacy applications. He said that while in the future "probably 85 to 90 percent of all things that we were to build" could reside on JEDI or a fit-for-purpose cloud, not everything from the "legacy estate" can be moved in a cost-effective manner.

A big variable in the legacy equation is the kind of cloud DOD eventually acquires. That will strongly influence whether applications will need rewriting or can be lifted and shifted directly into a cloud environment, Deasy said.

"There's various ways we can move over, but the big thing hanging out there right now is until we know what that architecture of that cloud is going to look like, it's very difficult to start estimation exercises," he said.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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