IT Trade Consortium Asks Congress To Disclose Reports Around Disputed Pentagon Cloud Contract


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A trade consortium representing the IT industry's most-powerful companies asked the U.S. Congress Tuesday to ensure the contracting process for the Pentagon's cloud adoption initiative was transparent in the wake of a largely rescinded contract to a solution provider with close ties to Amazon Web Services.

The letter from the Information Technology Industry Council's IT Alliance for Public Sector asked that reports around appropriations for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure initiative (JEDI) be disclosed to the public.

Recently released drafts of documents soliciting proposals suggest the Defense Department's cloud acquisition strategy "remains designed to facilitate the deployment of a single cloud under this program," reads the letter addressed to Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-RI) on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

[Related: REAN Cloud Says 'Old Guard' Protest Of DoD Cloud Contract Will Further Delay Defense IT Modernization]

The letter, signed by A.R. Hodgkins, senior vice president for the consortium's public sector division, never mentions AWS, nor any other company by name. But it comes on the heels of the controversial contract that was awarded to REAN Cloud, an AWS Premier partner.

"Deployment of a single cloud conflicts with established best practices and industry trends in the commercial marketplace, as well as current law and regulation, which calls for the award of multiple task or delivery order contracts to the maximum extent practicable," the letter said.

Best practices for reducing vendor lock-in, and delivering the greatest innovation, cost and security, call for multiple cloud vendors, it said.

The ITI argued the apparent contracting strategy "sends an ominous signal that competitors should not invest in the public sector marketplace."

REAN, based outside Washington D.C., announced the five-year contract, capped at $950 million, on Feb. 7, for a comprehensive cloud migration involving a custom solution for automating the military's procurement of cloud resources.

Soon after, Oracle lodged an official protest through the Government Accountability Office.

REAN's deal was later reduced to cover only a pilot U.S. Transportation Command project, with a maximum price set at $65 million.

Microsoft, IBM, Dell and HPE all joined Oracle in lobbying the federal government against prematurely selecting AWS. Those companies, all of which are members of the ITI, as is Amazon, want the award broken up among multiple vendors.

While the contract never was actually awarded to Amazon, the cloud leader is the only hyper-scale infrastructure provider that REAN lists as a partner.

That led Oracle to argue the selection was a de facto deal with AWS at the expense of other cloud providers.

REAN, however, issued a statement saying it would "provide a platform of options that lets agencies migrate legacy applications to a government-approved, commercial cloud environment of their choice."

REAN's work on that pilot project began almost two year ago. Since then, the scope has twice been expanded, and the company's prototype for USTRANSCOM was awarded the 2017 DoD CIO Cyber and IT Excellence Award.

The original contract called for working with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which looks to implement commercial technologies beneficial to the U.S military. The project was to speed procurement times to help the Pentagon achieve what it has identified as an important priority for maintaining a military edge over rival superpowers—embracing the cloud.

"We believe that the details included in the reports Congress has required are essential to ensuring success in cloud adoption at DoD," the ITI letter said.

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