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Does VMware Want A Piece Of The $10B JEDI Cloud Pie?

Responding to a question about the Pentagon's looming cloud transformation contract in an earnings call, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger suggested his company's efforts to earn FedRAMP certification and its position as a partner of finalists AWS and Microsoft could yield business from the highly controversial military initiative

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger suggested Thursday his company is vying for a slice of the military's highly controversial JEDI cloud initiative as a partner of finalists Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

Asked by an analyst how he sees the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contest playing out, and whether VMware could see some of that potentially $10 billion contract, Gelsinger spoke optimistically of VMware's efforts to win more government, and specifically military, business—without specifically referring to JEDI.

"While we can't forecast winners and losers and what protests may occur," Gelsinger said of JEDI bids in the Q1 2020 earnings call, "we are getting our offering ready to be a cloud provider to government."

[Related: 10 Things You Should Know About The DoD Cloud Strategy]

The looming $10 billion military contract for cloud computing services has come down to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, though Oracle has challenged that decision in court and has won backing in its manifold protests from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

VMware has established a strong partnership with Amazon around their joint hybrid cloud offering, VMware Cloud on AWS.

And last month, Michael Dell, CEO of VMware parent Dell Technologies, confirmed a long-awaited VMware-Microsoft cloud alliance. That product, Azure VMware Solutions, will hit market later this year.

With both hyper-scalers offering VMware environments as cloud services, it's not hard to imagine that some Pentagon dollars could trickle down to VMware from whichever is selected to provide the military's "General Purpose" cloud.

While Gelsinger adeptly avoided mentioning the specific contract, his vague comments didn't do anything to dispel that notion.

The "simple answer" to the specific question about JEDI, Gelsinger said, was that prior comments about VMware earning FedRAMP certification were "exactly in that vein."

In short, VMware is well on its way to FedRAMP approval, called Authority to Operate, which will be a "critical milestone for us," Gelsinger said, noting a large existing base of defense customers.

"We see this as a significant opportunity" that's an extension of the VMware Cloud offering, he said.

"We're aligning ourselves to participate in that," Gelsinger told investors. "The partnership with Amazon is important to that."

CRN has reached out to VMware requesting a further clarification of Gelsinger's comments to the JEDI question.

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