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Pentagon Says JEDI Cloud Contract RFP Coming Soon

The looming multi-billion dollar contract is sparking bitter fighting within the industry, as an alliance of tech powerhouses complain the requirements appear tilted in favor AWS

The Pentagon is getting ready to present its requirements for a cloud computing vendor to fulfill its JEDI initiative in a request for proposals that will almost certainly fuel more bitter feuding within the tech industry.

Dana Deasy, chief information officer for the U.S. Department of Defense, said Wednesday that IT vendors planning to bid on the contract can expect the RFP to be published soon.

The final RFP, still expected to involve a winner-take-all bid, has been delayed already more than a month.

[Related: AWS CEO Jassy Pledges 'Very Competitive' Bid in Jedi Pentagon Contract]

The contract has generated major controversy, with several tech powerhouses arguing the looming multi-billion-dollar contract appears tilted in favor of Amazon Web Services, and should be divided among vendors.

Despite industry pushback led by Oracle, Department of Defense officials have maintained that the best strategy to serve U.S. forces is to leverage a single public cloud for data storage and compute. They've defended their desire for a single provider in a letter sent to congressional committees.

The single-cloud posture goes against advice from an IT trade consortium.

The Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council's IT Alliance for Public Sector, a group that's comprised of all the cloud providers involved in the dispute, has argued a multi-cloud approach would adhere to best practices for ensuring price competitiveness and avoiding vendor lock-in.

Opponents of the military's plan maintain the conditions stated in two previous draft RFPs look written to ensure AWS takes the entirety of the contract.

A coalition of tech giants has gelled around Oracle's protest, including Microsoft and IBM, two of Amazon's most-prominent cloud rivals, as well as hardware giants Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In May, Bloomberg News got hold of figures indicating the government plans to spend $1.63 billion on cloud services over the next five years, starting with $160 million next fiscal year.

The Pentagon said it wants submissions to include plans to avoid vendor lock-in so that within two years it can consider switching to another provider. Leveraging application containers is one way, the military believes, it can migrate if it decides not to commit to three- and five-year extensions stipulated in the contract.

The military's IT leaders are concerned that multiple providers will increase security management challenges and make data less accessible to U.S. forces deployed in remote settings, such as naval vessels, the report said.

Oracle has already successfully scuttled the lion's share of a U.S. TRANSCOM contract to AWS partner REAN Cloud that many viewed as a precursor to the larger contract for which it will solicit bids later this year.

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