Will multi-cloud become the new Pentagon choice?



After two years of awarding the contract to Microsoft, the Pentagon has decided to abandon the JEDI program. The Defense Department announced the cancellation of the program on July 6th. It is now said to be moving in the multi-cloud direction to better meet its warfighter needs.


What is the JEDI Program, and Why Was It Cancelled?

For the uninitiated, JEDI, which stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, was designed to accelerate cloud adoption and digitize the US Department of Defense operations. In addition, it would have facilitated communication among the military personnel while improving national security at the same time.


The tender for the program was sought in 2017 during the Trump era. Several cloud companies, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Oracle, applied for it. In 2018, the $10 billion worth of the contract was awarded to Microsoft.


But Amazon alleged that the bidding process was unfair and was set up to benefit Microsoft. Following this allegation, the contract was halted.


Amazon sought more transparency in the process. The court alleged that the department was biased when awarding the contract since former President Donald Trump had a feud with then-Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.


Subsequently, the Pentagon terminated the contract and made way for the new multi-cloud initiative.



What is the Multi-cloud Initiative?

The multi-cloud initiative is the new cloud environment program adopted by the Pentagon in which it will procure cloud services from multiple vendors rather than a single one.


The initiative is officially known as the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC).


Other than the dispute over the bidding process, the main reason why the US Department of Defense (DoD) moved away from JEDI was due to its evolving needs.


Cloud computing capabilities had significantly changed since 2017, when it first initiated the process. The future doctrine plans for the US military include domains other than land, water, and air and extend into cyber and space.


The DoD needs the different units to be able to communicate, process, and share data among themselves. But it doesn't want to rely on a single vendor either.


The JWCC is planned to be more versatile and secure than JEDI. Although very little is known about the JWCC's technical demands, one thing for certain is that JEDI no longer meets its requirements.


Benefits of Multi-cloud Approach

There are several benefits to a multi-cloud approach over the single-cloud design. Here are some of the main advantages:


Find the Best Cloud Products

When working with a single cloud provider, you're limited to the functionalities of that particular provider. But cloud services have evolved, and each provider has niche products that are better than the others.


In a multi-cloud environment, you can pick the best cloud products from each service provider.


It is one of the main reasons why the Pentagon moved away from the JEDI program that was to be run by Microsoft. Instead, it can select products from Microsoft, AWS, Oracle, and others with the multi-cloud approach.


Better Security

The second benefit of multi-cloud is improved security. Cloud providers are responsible for securing their infrastructures. But they're vulnerable to attack nonetheless.


In a multi-cloud approach, the apps and data are distributed across data centers. It makes it harder for hackers to get access to all the files or data. Even when there's a breach, it will be limited and contained. It wouldn't likely have catastrophic consequences.


Flexible and Scalable

With the growing need to store and process data, organizations demand flexibility in their operation. And a multi-cloud design can help meet that flexibility.


Along with flexibility comes scalability. So when the need to process information grows, the team can scale up the operations and computing capability. And when there's a dip in demand, they can scale down the operation easily.


Ability to Switch between Vendors

Many cloud providers tend to lock in their customers so that they don't migrate to a different vendor. Unfortunately, it puts many organizations at a disadvantage since they cannot use another product offered by another cloud provider that might be better for them.


With a multi-cloud design, the organizations will find it easier to switch between vendors as and when necessary. So when the rules get tough and too demanding by a cloud service provider, they can abandon it without much effort. Thus, they can retain their negotiation powers.


Network Performance Improvements

A multi-cloud approach also improves the network performance. For example, an organization would be able to create a high-speed, low-latency IT infrastructure for its team members to use.


The organization would be able to select the data center and CDN at its will. So it can store data in a data center that's nearest to its users. As a result, it can significantly improve speed and performance.


Multi-cloud can also reduce or eliminate downtime. For example, if a server fails to respond or is hacked and down, it can connect to a secondary data source right away without having to wait. So the data availability improves as well.


Cost Savings

Designing a multi-cloud infrastructure is challenging to say the least. But once it's up and running, organizations will have more control over their cost. They can switch to a provider with the lowest or lower price.


Multi-cloud also allows you to work on a pay-per-use model. So you only pay when you use the services and as per your usage.


All of these benefit the Department of Defense and its plans. Thus, making a move to multi-cloud sounds reasonable enough.



What's Next for Cloud Service Providers?

Microsoft had the biggest loss because of the cancellation of the program. The company narrowly beat AWS in the contract race.


The DoD stated that both Microsoft and AWS are likely to receive a portion of the JWCC contract, with Oracle possibly receiving a portion because of its expertise in data centers and cloud computing. The JWCC may also open doors to startups and defense contractors who can bring innovative products to the marketplace.


As the cloud computing industry evolves, the Pentagon will also make changes to the overall contract. But multi-cloud is the way to go for the defense agency and other organizations alike.



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