The Last of the JEDI and the Rise of the JWCC

July 22, 2021

The Pentagon identified a desire to acquire a “worldwide, highly available, exponentially elastic, secure, resilient cloud computing and storage environment that seamlessly extends from the homefront to the tactical edge” and to “enable rapid development and deployment of new applications and advanced capabilities.” Cloud architect powerhouses including Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Google went head-to-head to respond. Ultimately, Microsoft was awarded the 10-year Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract in the fall of 2019. The JEDI contract was intended to advance cloud architecture while also focusing on commercial solutions, therefore meeting the needs set forth by the Pentagon.

However, with industrial cloud capabilities, the technology and requirements are ever-evolving. In recognition of the improvements to available cloud solutions as well as their own changing needs, the Department of Defense (DoD) began terminating Microsoft’s 10-year JEDI contract in June 2021.

The acting DoD Chief Information Officer, John Sherman stated, “JEDI was developed at a time when the Department’s needs were different and both the CSPs technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature. In light of new initiatives like JADC2 and AI and Data Acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within DoD, and changes in user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments to execute mission, our landscape has advanced and a new way-ahead is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and non-traditional warfighting domains.”

The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability

To meet new cloud efforts the Pentagon announced their newest contract, The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC). With the new contract expected to be awarded by April 2022, JWCC will be a five-year multi-award and multi-vendor solution. Consisting of a three-year performance-based period and two one-year option periods, the Department stated the JWCC will support its two warfighter capabilities: Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the AI and Data Acceleration (ADA) initiative.

Sherman added, “The JWCC will….be a bridge to our longer-term approach, allowing us to leverage cloud technology from headquarters to the tactical edge, which will bolster our knowledge even further as we move to a full and open competition.”

The JEDI was positioned as a single-cloud computing contract to support the DoD’s business and mission operations by providing enterprise level, commercial Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and their Platform as a Service (PaaS) initiative. In an attempt to mitigate the vulnerabilities of a single-cloud solution,  the JWCC is intended to be a combined service, with Microsoft Corporation and Amazon Web Services projected to be mutually awarded the JWCC contract. However, Sherman plans to also reach out to IBM, Oracle and Google as possible vendors. There is even some speculation that Microsoft could re-enter the conversation as an overall goal is interoperability and flexibility.

Although the Pentagon’s goal is to have a complete open and competitive multi-award and multi-vendor cloud solution by 2025, JWCC will support the needs of different warfighter capabilities in the interim.

JEDI & JWCC: The Short Story

What is JEDI?

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, intended to create a common, interoperable cloud solution for the Department of Defense, contract awarded to Microsoft in the fall of 2019 and terminated beginning June 2021

What is JWCC?

The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, similar goals to JEDI but with a multi-vendor stipulation for increased security and flexibility, announced June 2021

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