The Pentagon has put the brakes on what could potentially be one of the largest cloud contracts ever awarded, but has been careful to say the project will move forward in a timely manner. The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which has the potential to cost $10 billion for services over a period of up to 10 years, will bring the Pentagon into the cloud just as China is scrambling to roll out its own military cloud systems.
The JEDI contract was originally slated to be awarded last September, with Amazon and Microsoft in contention for the award, while other companies like Oracle and IBM failed to meet all the required criteria. But the Pentagon announced earlier this month that Defense Secretary Mark Esper would be reviewing the project, in an effort to fully understand the cloud and the complexities of the proposed JEDI program.
“What we’re going to do over the next several weeks is we are actually going to bring people in to these sessions,” said Dana Deasy, CIO of the Department of Defense. “So we’re going to bring warfighters in. We’re going to bring the military services in. We’re going to bring combatant command participants in. For example, U.S. Cyber Command, and we’re going to bring technical and legal experts in, as well.”
Deasy stated that the contract will not be awarded this month, as the Pentagon doesn’t want to rush into such a massive and important undertaking. However the pressure is on, now that China is racing forward with its own cloud initiatives. According to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, head of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), the DoD is keen to move forward with the JEDI project to keep up with U.S. adversaries. Shanahan also stressed the importance of AI in the JEDI project and how enterprise-scale cloud computing will transform the future of warfare.
“If I am a warfighter, I want as much data as you could possibly give me,” said Shanahan. “Let me use my sort of algorithms to sort through it as fast as machine speeds, let the machines do that but the humans think, the cognitive piece of this. It’s really hard for me to do that without an enterprise cloud solution.”
Shanahan said the JAIC as well as Project Maven, an AI-enabled program designed to help Air Force analysts better utilize full-motion video surveillance, would be among the first projects to migrate to JEDI.
“Enterprise cloud provides a solution for the deployment of software and AI, enabling instantaneous and continuous deployment of updates to a global enterprise,” said Shanahan. “A single instance of an AI application can be used by an entire enterprise and updated for all at the same time. An enterprise cloud allows AI cycle speeds that can be measured in updates and across an entire enterprise in hours as opposed to in months, six months or maybe even a year.”
TechZone360 Contributing Editor
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