Defense Speak Interpreted: What Happened to Our Defense JEDI?

When I last wrote about the Defense’s JEDI program (not JEDI knight) back in June, we had high hopes for its success. JEDI stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure and is the backbone cloud computer system for Defense to tie the service branches together. To refresh your memory, Defense issued a $10 billion-plus contract to Microsoft for the massive cloud software effort, and Amazon appealed the award. When I wrote my June column, Defense had vowed to see the contract appeal though and grant the contract to Microsoft. 

Boy, did a lot change in a hurry. By June 21, the Defense Department admitted that it was exploring options as the bid protest dragged on, and work on a master software effort could not start. Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary of defense, admitted that it would take Defense a month or so to sort out.

According to a June 21 article in Defense News1:

“Hicks acknowledged that Pentagon’s centerpiece joint war-fighting strategy, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, hinges on its implementation of cloud computing―and that using the technology at the ‘boardroom’ level would enable efficiency measures such as internal audits and inventory control.”

(I wrote about JADC2—Joint All Domain Command and Control—in my February 2021 column. More coming on JADC2, as real tests are underway.)  

In another statement, Hicks noted that besides tying the services together in war situations, that Defense badly needed some kind of over-arching cloud software for Defense function, including audits, inventory control, and human resources needs. That all sounds like running Defense just like any multi-trillion-dollar business. Each service branch has invested in its own cloud level project, but JEDI was the first Defense effort covering all service branches. In a bit of a conflict, 75% of Defense IT respondents in a survey said their own service branch could handle current cloud computing requirements. But, 80% said that could see the need for an over-arching cloud platform in the near future2

On July 6, 2021, the Defense story changed; just a month after I wrote about the JEDI program. Defense cancelled the JEDI effort! A spokesman put the blame here: “With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI Cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps.”3 

Our JEDI is dead? Oh no! Well, whoever says anything at Defense truly dies? At the same time as the JEDI cancellation, the Pentagon announced a new effort called the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, or JWCC. The project will be a multi-cloud, multi-vendor indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.  We better break that down from Defense Speak.

“Multi-cloud, multi-vendor” means that the Pentagon will contract with more than one software provider, and they can have different cloud structures. In short, no one company is getting the whole pie, but their efforts better have a crust and filling and be able to be baked in the same dish.

“Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) is probably the way most of the public thinks Defense spends their appropriations. However, IDIQ is pretty specific:

IDIQ contracts are most often used for on-call service contracts, Architect-Engineering (A-E) services, and job order contracting. Awards are usually for a specified number of base years with renewal options for additional years. These contracts typically do not exceed a total of five years in duration. The government places delivery orders (for supplies) or task orders (for services) against a basic contract for individual requirements. Minimum and maximum quantity limits are specified in the basic contract as either number of units (for supplies) or as dollar values (for services). The government uses an IDIQ contract when it cannot predetermine, above a specified minimum, the precise quantities of supplies or services that it will require during the contract period. Exact dollar amounts for minimums must also be named.”4

JWCC will start with a three-year base period and two one-year options, and be in the billions of dollars.  Guess who Defense expects the JWCC key players to be? Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services. At that time in July, Defense targeted JWCC awards to occur in April 2022 with the market research targeted for ending near the end of 2021.

Actually, smaller cloud systems have been under development at Defense, even while JEDI was grabbing the headlines. For instance, the Air Force has “Cloud One” and the Defense Information Systems Agency has “milCloud 2.0.” The Army has designated its cloud management office as “the Enterprise Cloud Management Agency.” A separate survey said DoD awarded nearly $400 million more in cloud contracts during fiscal year 2020 than it did in fiscal year 2019 without anything for JEDI.

So, is this JWCC akin to the COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) concept where Defense buys public parts for its systems, such as power supplies, displays, cables, connectors? Defense learned long ago that many commercial parts work and there is no need to design/manufacture specific Defense sub-assemblies.

A COTS Cloud was even proposed in 2017 before Defense spent four years pursuing JEDI. The most memorable part of the JEDI contract battle was that former President Trump even got into the review process, nominally because Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, including the Web Services branch, and Trump did not care for Bezos. Republicans did not forget about the Defense cloud choice. As recently as September, they wanted to re-open the cloud computing contract decision process as part of the NDAA mark-up for FY 2022. However, money was not appropriated to re-hash the JEDI Cloud computing decision. The nominal contention was about an Amazon consultant who became a Pentagon advisor, according to the New York Times5.

Even Oracle, which was turned down in the 2018 “JEDI semi-finals” before Microsoft and Amazon were the only platforms left standing for JEDI, pursued the JEDI contact all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That appeal was just turned down on October 6, 2021. It was kind of bittersweet because Oracle sued to block the single source contract eventually going to Microsoft. Oracle has now gotten their wish for multiple contracts; not because of a Supreme Court decision, but because Defense cancelled JEDI.

Cloud computing remains a prickly federal issue. The National Security Agency, while not strictly Defense, was involved on Oct. 29 in a Microsoft protest for NSA’s “WildandStormy.” In that one, Amazon was the winner, and Microsoft appealed. That was not a “small one,” as it was also valued at as much as another $10 billion. This squabble may not make so many headlines because the NSA is even more sensitive to publicity than Defense. 

But, Defense has to get moving on Cloud coordination. The key elements of JADC2 depend on inter-service communications. A Defense One article6 provided more details on the situation. In the article, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, who heads the JADC2 effort for the Joint Chiefs, said, “The delivery of JADC2 is dependent on a robust, purpose-built cloud for the environment we need to operate in.”

The article continues:

“While the Army, Navy, and Air Force had all been pursuing their own joint-warfighting experiments, the document gives Crall more authority to ensure that each service’s effort matches up with the Pentagon’s overall vision. Before the signing, he said, ‘I could persuade individuals to adhere to a framework and a structure and if there was slow compliance or no compliance there was no teeth in the system to make that change. We had no Northern Star.’ The signing of the strategy now allows Crall to ‘take that JADC2 strategy and a specific line of effort and place it over the top of this experimentation and vet it and say, ‘What parts of those are in compliance today and what parts are not?’”

So, what can we expect from the “son of JEDI,” Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, or JWCC. We can expect multiple programs from an array of Cloud contractors. DoD intends to release “directed solicitations” to Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. Even Google may participate as DoD officials consider the possibility of including more commercial cloud vendors. Defense is always interesting, as long as you understand the language. In my world, I call it “Defense speak.” 

References

  1. “Pentagon to reveal JEDI cloud computing contract’s future in coming weeks,” Defense News, June 21, 2021.
  2. “JEDI Cloud Update Coming Soon, Says Pentagon’s No. 2,” Defense One, June 21, 2021.
  3. “Pentagon Cancels JEDI Cloud Contract,” Defense One, July 6, 2021.
  4. IDIQ, Wikipedia.com.
  5. “House panel rejects JEDI contract oversight proposal,” Defense News, Sept. 1, 2021.
  6. “Pentagon’s Accelerating ‘Connect-Everything’ Effort Hinges on Uncertain Cloud Program,” Defense One, June 7, 2021.

Dennis Fritz was a 20-year direct employee of MacDermid Inc. and is retired after 12 years as a senior engineer at (SAIC) supporting the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. He was elected to the IPC Hall of Fame in 2012.

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2021

Defense Speak Interpreted: What Happened to Our Defense JEDI?

11-09-2021

When I last wrote about the Defense’s JEDI program (not JEDI knight) back in June, we had high hopes for its success. JEDI stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure and is the backbone cloud computer system for Defense to tie the service branches together. To refresh your memory, Defense issued a $10 billion-plus contract to Microsoft for the massive cloud software effort, and Amazon appealed the award. When I wrote my June column, Defense had vowed to see the contract appeal though and grant the contract to Microsoft.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: The ‘Trouble’ With Obsolescence

10-12-2021

How could a simple word like obsolescence stir up so much trouble within the Defense Department? Obsolescence is defined as the process of becoming obsolete or the condition of being nearly obsolete. Dennis Fritz explains its connection to Defense.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: What Does Convergence Mean to Defense?

09-14-2021

How can a simple term like “convergence” be confusing, even at the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army? Webster’s dictionary defines convergence as “1. The act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity,” and “4. The merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole.”

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Decoding the Military’s COCOM

08-10-2021

Have you ever followed Defense activities around the world and been confused by terms like CENTCOM or SOUTHCOM? Who’s in charge of worldwide Defense activities—just “a big guy at the top” or regional commanders? How do Army, Navy, and Air Force stay coordinated around the world in various geographies?

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Defense Speak Interpreted: POM—Explaining the Process for Defense Budgeting

07-13-2021

Anyone hanging around Defense programs will have surely heard of the term “POM.” Most of the connotations I have heard say that if you have a POM or will get “POM’d,” your program is “skating on solid ice.” That led me to infer that if you were in the POM, your program was established. But why and how?

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Defense Speak Interpreted: The U.S. Has a Space Force—JEDI Knights Next?

06-08-2021

Does the U.S. Department of Defense's JEDI contract mean it's going into a Star Wars production? Sorry, no Stephen Spielberg this time. Sorting out the good guys and bad guys in this cloud computing scenario.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Defense on Legacy Weapons Systems

05-11-2021

As “Defense Speak Interpreted” readers have surmised, the weapons systems of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are under review, both with President Biden and with the Congress now in control by Democrats. But “weapons systems of yesterday”? In the fast-paced consumer electronics world, “legacy” never comes up.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Industrial Base Evaluation

04-06-2021

So, what is an “industrial base” to the Defense Department? And wouldn’t we expect a “battle plan” from Defense, not an “industrial strategy”? We want to review the Defense Industrial Strategy in the January, 2021 Report to Congress from the Acquisition and Sustainment section of the Department of Defense.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: So, What’s a JADC2?

02-09-2021

The term JADC2 was prevalent in the late 2020 debate about the National Defense Authorization Act. It is a new way defense is using electronics to shape battle strategy. JADC2 is Defense Speak for “Joint All Domain Command and Control.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it, but what does that mean?

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Your Best Friend is a Skyborg?

01-15-2021

Suddenly the term “Skyborg” is popping up in Air Force publications, and if you are an Air Force pilot, your future best friend may be a Skyborg. To understand the concept behind the term Skyborg, we need a bit of weapons strategy for the Air Force.

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2020

Defense Speak Interpreted: What’s a VITA?

12-15-2020

Ever wonder how military electronics users could swap out circuit cards rapidly and keep their defense systems running? What about a “hot swap” of a circuit card that was questionable? How would defense depots keep enough unique circuit cards on hand to maintain the various systems in times of heavy use? The Department of Defense started to worry about those issues over 30 years ago and has helped private industry develop a highly sophisticated set of standards for circuit card input/output (I/O) to make quick change possible.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Intel Is Now Making a ‘SHIP’

11-10-2020

Perhaps you recently saw that Intel was awarded a contract for a SHIP by the U.S. Department of Defense. However, this one will not float on the water since SHIP stands for state-of-the-art heterogeneous integration prototype. Denny Fritz explains.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Rad-Hard Electronics

10-13-2020

Have you ever seen electronics described as “rad-hard,” or radiation-hardened, and wondered what that meant and how that was done? Did you like me just assume that “rad-hard” and “expensive” were synonymous? Did you think that this was a Defense Department term since they deal with nuclear weapons? Denny Fritz explores this and more.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: The Defense Innovation Unit

09-22-2020

Many of Denny Fritz's columns are about new defense technologies and innovations, but what about an organization with “innovation” in its name? Here, he describes the history and purpose of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), as well as some of its programs.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Unpacking the NDAA

08-25-2020

What is this NDAA stuff you keep hearing on the national news all the time, and why is it important to PCBs? Denny Fritz explains what is going on with the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes programs and lays out the priorities and policies for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

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Defense Speak Interpreted: DMEA

07-14-2020

A June 17 article announced a supply chain award of $10.7 billion to eight defense companies for semiconductors. Dennis Fritz explains how the Defense Microelectronics Agency (DMEA) administers this contract and keeps the technology secure.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: C4ISR

06-16-2020

Only the U.S. Defense Department would lump together seven concepts—command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance—into a single acronym: C4ISR. Denny Fritz explains how C4ISR has been called the “nervous system” of the military.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: What’s an RCV, and What Do Electronics Have to Do With It?

05-12-2020

In "Defense Speak," RCV does not stand for ranked-choice voting, a remote control vehicle, a riot control vehicle, or a refuse collection vehicle, although the second one is close; it stands for a remote combat vehicle. Denny Fritz explores this concept and its defense applications.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Why Is Defense Hyper Over Hypersonics?

04-14-2020

Perhaps you have noticed that the term “hypersonics” is now a buzz phrase in a big part of the Department of Defense research effort. What does hypersonic mean, and why is so much work needed in this weapons field? Dennis Fritz explains.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Be Prepared for CMMC

03-24-2020

If you are a current or future Defense Department contractor or subcontractor, you need to be prepared for the next cybersecurity requirements coming online during 2020. This is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, in Defense speak. Dennis Fritz explains how there will be five levels of cybersecurity requirements for various amounts of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) you handle, with increasing requirements from one (least) to five (most).

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2019

Defense Speak Interpreted: The Continuing Resolution

12-10-2019

The topic of the continuing resolution (CR) has been sneaking past other hot Washington topics, such as impeachment, candidate debates, and why the Redskins are so bad. Dennis Fritz provides an update concerning a CR and the 2020 fiscal year.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Executive Agent

11-12-2019

After reading my previous column, you may have realized that electronics packaging technology development came from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. One of its core responsibilities is the assignment of “executive agent” for PCBs and electronic interconnects. But what is this “executive agent” thing, frequently shortened to EA? Dennis Fritz explains.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: PCB-related OTAs from NAVSEA Crane

10-29-2019

In my previous column, I described how Other Transaction Authority (OTA) projects were speeding up the development of new technology for the Defense Department. Much of this improvement has to do with the speed of contracting and the less restrictive selection and payment process involved. Specifically, I would like to call out projects under the National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL).

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Other Transaction Authority

09-19-2019

DIU grants contracts under a joint OTA and a parallel process called commercial solutions opening. Most of the five DIU focus areas depend on electronics: artificial intelligence (AI), autonomy, cyber, human systems, and space. At the end of 2018, DIU had funded 104 contracts with a total value of $354 million and brought in 87 non-traditional DoD vendors, including 43 contracting with DoD for the first time.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: DARPA ERI

01-29-2019

DARPA ERI stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Electronics Resurgence Initiative. This tongue-twisting acronym is the latest Department of Defense (DoD) effort to catch up and surpass world semiconductor technology for the secure IC chips needed by advanced defense electronics systems.

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2018

Defense Speak Interpreted: PERM—Pb-free Electronics Risk Management

12-18-2018

In this column, we explore PERM—the Pb-free Electronics Risk Management Consortium. No, the group members do not all have curly hair! The name was chosen around 2008 by a group of engineers from aerospace, defense, and harsh environment (ADHE) organizations.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Defense Electronic Supply Chain Issues

10-18-2018

On October 5, 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) highlighted issues with the release of the 146-page report “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States” from President Donald J. Trump

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