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On Thursday the Defense Department spoke to reporters about its impending information technology move to the cloud saying it will rapidly deliver advantages to the battlefield by enabling new machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities.
Dana W. White, chief Pentagon spokesperson, said the existing DoD IT infrastructure is a federated legacy environment based on earlier technology. “Transitioning from legacy systems to the cloud will improve security, data accessibility, affordability and performance for both the warfighter and business operations across the department,” she explained.
DoD describes the “Cloud” as the use of servers pooled together to provide virtual computing, storage, and additional services. With JEDI Cloud, DoD is pursuing infrastructure and platform as a service, which is the foundational layer necessary to enable advanced capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“Acquiring software is not like acquiring ships or planes, but we must adhere to the same acquisition language and laws,” White said. “This contract is an example of how we are modernizing the department and reforming the way we do business.”
White told the audience she wants to separate fact from fiction, and what the cloud is and what it is not. “We are conducting a full and open competition to acquire the best cloud capability for the war fighter,” she said. “It is a single-award contract. It is not a sole-source contract, and it is not designed with a specific vendor or company in mind. In fact, multiple vendors may form a partnership to offer us a competitive solution.” The contract is also only for two years.
It is a two-year contract with two option periods, White said, adding that this means the initial contract award is for only two years. The Pentagon says it will take another look at the market place after the 2 year period and reevaluate.
Late in 2017, TRANSCOM begin moving classified data and applications to Amazon Web Services’ Secret Region—the same cloud environment developed for the CIA and intelligence community several years ago.
TRANSCOM is designated as the “pathfinder,” a model for other Defense agencies that want to migrate to a classified commercial cloud computing environment, according to its sole-source justification. If its early efforts prove successful, other Defense agencies are likely to follow suit, which could mean big business for AWS. The Defense Department spends about $40 billion annually on information technology.
Some fear the security issues involved with moving classified data into the cloud- others make the argument it is far safer than the current system.
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