A Defense Department official charged with helping to figure out the Pentagon’s next set of moves on large-scale cloud contracts said today that the Pentagon hopes to award new cloud service contracts as early as the Spring of 2022.

Sharon Woods, executive director of the Cloud Computing Program Office within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), laid out expectations for the cloud service contracting timetable for DoD’s new Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract during an event organized by NextGov and Government Executive.

The JWCC contract is DoD’s successor to the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud services contract that the Pentagon began taking steps earlier this month to cancel after three frustrating years of bidding, rebidding, and court wrangling.

DoD said last week that the JWCC contract will be a multi-cloud, multi-vendor contract, with a list of potential vendors including Microsoft – which twice won the JEDI contract – and Amazon Web Services (AWS), which protested the awards. DoD said those two companies, based on market research, appeared to be the only cloud service providers (CSP) “capable of meeting” DoD’s requirements.

But the Pentagon also said it will “immediately engage with industry and continue its market research to determine whether any other U.S.-based hyperscale CSPs can also meet the DoD’s requirements,” and would negotiate with any providers it identified through that process.

JWCC Contract Timeline

Woods said today that her office is currently in the market research phase of its work on JWCC, which she said is providing a “really great opportunity for us to reassess what is available in industry.”

She said her office is engaging directly with Microsoft and AWS and asking them to deliver capability statements for the JWCC contract, along with considering other hyperscale cloud service providers.

Woods said she would like to complete the “pre-solicitation phase” of the work by October and then issue solicitations to vendors. That step would be followed by negotiations with vendors. “With haste, we want to get to those contract awards … in the April, May, June timeframe,” she said.

“It’s a really aggressive timeline, and we feel confident that industry can support it,” Woods said.

More Clouds, More Options

Helping to drive DoD’s JWCC efforts forward quickly are execution of the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) strategy approved earlier this year, and a “hyper focus” on threats posed by China, Woods said.

For JWCC, she said it’s “really important” to have “optionality” to use a variety of cloud environments.

“There are different cloud environments at the infrastructure layer, but at the application layer we are able to cross cloud requirements,” Woods explained. “We need to continue to mature that work … that is what has to happen for us to be able to move across different cloud environments.”

JWCC will have the capacity to onboard new services over time, and “that is why cloud contracts and optionality are so important,” Woods said. “Our contract vehicles have to be able to onboard new capabilities” as they emerge, she added.

Adoption of multiple clouds has been part of DoD’s broader strategy for years, Woods said, adding that practice “has to continue.”

Existing cloud options like Cloud One and milCloud 2.0, Woods said, “have to persist … the intent is not to collapse them into JWCC.”

“You have to have diversity and optionality of cloud environments,” she emphasized. “Mission owners have to be in the position to decide … what is best for them.”

Asked about some larger themes as her office works through the JWCC solicitations, Woods replied, “one of the critical things … through really good communications … is to remind everyone that this is about the mission … stop thinking about this as a contract.”

“This is not a silo,” Woods said, “this is an ecosystem of things that needs to be in place so that the department can do its job.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.