Tag Archives: cloud computing

New Contract Award Reveals Pentagon’s Evolving Cloud Strategy

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Image: Peggy Frierson/Defense Media Activity

DEFENSE ONE”

Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Secure Multi-Cloud Management System Contract disproves fears that the massive JEDI contract meant one company would get all the work.

It shows that the Pentagon is moving away from its older multi-cloud environment, a kluge of little clouds mostly from longtime defense contractors.”

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“Google will build security-and app-management tools for the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, deepening the Silicon Valley giant’s military ties and illuminating the challenges facing the Defense Department’s drive to a multi-cloud environment.

Tools and a console built with the company’s Anthos application management platform will allow DIU to manage apps on either of the cloud services heavily used by the Pentagon: Microsoft Azure, which won the hotly contested JEDI cloud contract, and Amazon Web Services, or AWS, heavily used by DoD researchers, from a Google Cloud console.

Mike Daniels, vice president of government sales for Google Cloud services, said the company’s approach to security both complements and differs from those of Microsoft and AWS. Traditional “castle-and-moat” network security uses firewalls and virtual private networks to keep attackers on the other side of some sort of digital barrier. The higher security certification, the deeper and wider that moat. It works well enough in a single-cloud environment but less well in one with applications running in multiple clouds. It can also present problems when you’re dealing with an “extended workforce”: a bunch of people working from home or different locations.

Google’s approach is based on fewer borders, perimeters, and moats, Daniels explained. “It looks at critical access control based on information about a specific device, its current state, its facilitated user, and their context. So it considers internal and external networks to be untrusted,” he said. “We’re dynamically asserting and enforcing levels of access at the application layer, not at the moat or perimeter. What does that do? That allows employees in the extended workforce to access web apps from virtually any device anywhere without a traditional remote-access [virtual private network].”

First, it shows that the Pentagon is moving away from its older multi-cloud environment, a kluge of little clouds mostly from longtime defense contractors. When the JEDI program was announced, a lot of those vendors howled that a single massive cloud contract would leave DoD overly reliant on one company. The Pentagon countered that while JEDI was its biggest cloud contract to date, it would not be the last. What DoD did not say—but what some vendors should have anticipated—is that Azure and AWS will be picking up more and more of that business. Case in point: the Air Force’s Cloud One, a key node in their Advanced Battle Management System concept, is a hybrid AWS-Azure cloud. “Multi-cloud environment” for DoD increasingly means AWS and Azure. Future software should be compatible with both. 

Second, it shows that Google is overcoming its employees’ resistance to defense contracting. In 2017, newly appointed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made Google one of the main stops on his tech tour. His favorable impression of the company’s pioneering cloud-based approach to AI shaped the JEDI competition and helped give rise to Project Maven, a program to apply AI to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. But an employee protest led Google to end its work with Maven.

Since then, Google has put in place a list of ethical guidelines, which, it says, should enable the company to work with the Defense Department in a way that doesn’t violate what it sees as its core values. It’s working with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center on projects related to healthcare and business automation and far-reaching research initiatives in AI safety and the post-Moore’s Law computing environment. Meredith Whittaker, the Google employee who led the protests, left the company last year.

Last April, Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president for global affairs, described the perception that the company was opposed to doing national security work, as “frustrating.” 

Government cloud contracts have become a lot more important to Google’s business model than they were a few years ago. Google has tripled its investment in the public sector space, said Daniels. While this individual contract award is in the seven figures range, Daniels sees it as a possible pathfinder for future work with more of the Defense Department, enabled by DIU. “Frankly, the U.S. DoD is important to us, both domestically as well as globally. We are a global public sector business. To the extent that the U.S. Department of Defense is doing work with us, I do think that is an indicator for us globally as to the confidence that governments around the world can put into Google as a business partner.” 

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2020/05/what-googles-new-contract-reveals-about-pentagons-evolving-clouds/165524/

DOD’s $8.2 Billion Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) Award Expected This Summer

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Image: FCW Workshop

DEFENSE SYSTEMS

DEOS, which is being run through GSA Schedule 70, will be a $8 billion-plus blanket purchase agreement for multiple business software tools including email and chat.

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“The Defense Enterprise Office Solutions contract – the Pentagon’s other major cloud acquisition — will be soon be awarded with requests for information on voice and video capability sets to follow.

The DEOS award is expected summer, to include an initial task order, with integration and initial testing taking place in the fall, and migration planned from fiscal 2020 through 2022, Kevin Tate, a management analyst for the Defense Department CIO’s portfolio lead on enterprise capabilities and productivity services, said during a presentation at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s May 13 TechNet Cyber conference with AFCEA in Baltimore.

Following the panel, Tate told FCW that RFIs regarding capability sets two and three — for business and assured IP voice and video functions — are expected later this year or by early 2020, pending internal cost analyses.

Business analysis decisions still need to be made, Karl Kurz, DISA’s chief engineer for the unified capabilities portfolio, told FCW, as old analog infrastructure lingers. Kurz also said during the joint presentation that some of the distinctions between DEOS and the other two capability sets led to a “logical breakdown” across the commercial space.

Both Kurz and Tate indicated that DOD and DISA are taking their time in evaluating the technical and financial costs of solutions for IP voice and video. However, like DEOS, moving to a reliable capability from aging legacy systems is urgent.

As Kurz said, “It doesn’t matter how much money you save, if someone calls 911 and the call doesn’t go through — you’ve failed.”

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2019/05/15/deos-bpa-sked.aspx?s=ds_160519

How A Center Of Excellence Can Fuel Cloud Success

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“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Jeff Sorenson and Michael Hong

“As with any center of excellence, the cloud center of excellence should be the central enterprise-level authority with broad and deep expertise. 

Ultimately, the cloud center of excellence should create, evangelize, and institutionalize best practices and approaches for cloud. “

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“As organizations continue to adopt “Cloud First” and “Cloud Smart” strategies to capitalize on scale, productivity, and agility opportunities, the lessons learned from a variety of commercial and public-sector organizations reveal that capturing the full benefits of cloud computing requires an enterprise-level cloud center of excellence.

Adopting new disciplines in the dual-speed IT world that the cloud fosters requires true transformation. For example, because the entire application portfolio typically must be migrated over time rather than all at once, a central governance function is required to deliver ongoing first-speed needs. Meanwhile, more customers of IT are submitting new project requests that require faster second speed to execute in an agile DevOps fashion.

IT departments and their customers are being inundated with emerging technology and new capabilities amid a growing ecosystem of cloud partners, which is evolving as fast as new cloud capabilities are brought online. And yet, many in the broader IT user community do not know how to achieve the full benefits that the cloud can deliver on demand, including computing, databases, storage, and security.

In this rapidly evolving environment, having an informed view of the latest and greatest cloud-based opportunities should rest on the shoulders of a cloud center of excellence — a cross-functional team responsible for developing and managing the enterprise cloud strategy, governance, best practices, approaches, methods, and knowledge to transform mission critical functions and business units via the cloud. The center leads cloud migrations, governance and overall adoption.

A cloud center of excellence can develop and rapidly disseminate expertise to correctly execute cloud migrations and help the organization capitalize on the full potential of the cloud. And because the cloud is not the panacea for all situations, the answer is not always clear-cut. Sometimes, the solution is a combination of on-premise software and a private or public cloud. To identify the best approach, the center can develop a robust cloud strategy and build the financial case. A center can also identify the ideal approach to rationalize, refactor, and re-engineer applications and migrate the portfolio with established, accelerated transition plans that are developed based on collective lessons learned.

Cloud centers of excellence offer an array of powerful benefits:

  • Develop the “burning platform” or business imperative, define the broader cloud strategy, and clearly articulate it by highlighting more than a list of technology benefits
  • Provide clarity on the rationale for the workload distribution across traditional, co-location, and cloud set-ups, and clarify the workload categorization for X as-a-service, or “Anything as a Service” (Which apps are suitable for which model?)
  • Enumerate the comprehensive cost-side implications, including transition costs
  • Lock in benefits beyond reducing operating costs, such as faster time to market and legacy optimization
  • Build and disseminate best practices, governance, and frameworks
  • Set up vendors and business case accounting for the cost implications of insourcing or retaining high-price incumbents
  • Identify the challenges and risks with cloud migration and the need for contract transparency
  • Manage the cloud adoption life cycle from the strategy, road map, design, migration, and application modernization to cybersecurity, compliance, and ongoing support

Getting started requires several key moves:

  • Establish single-threaded ownership
  • Clearly define necessary roles
  • Build core team of experts including but not limited to agile scrum leads, developers, network engineers, IT operations, and database administrators
  • Focus initially on: permissions, governance, architecture, security, and cost
  • Partner closely with mission and business function leads

Successful cloud centers of excellence require:

  • Strong executive, senior leadership support for the center as the enterprise central hub and authority for cloud enablement best practices
  • Training the organization on the center’s frameworks and approaches
  • Continually monitoring and keeping abreast of new tools and partners

Reports sponsored by leading cloud computing firms including CloudCheckr have studied the state of public sector cloud adoption with data points from more than 300 participants. Respondents indicate that more than 80 percent of those with a cloud center of excellence say it is effective and 96 percent believe they would benefit from a center with key reported benefits leading to reduce security risks and costs, and improving the ability to be innovative and agile.

As with any center of excellence, the cloud center of excellence should be the central enterprise-level authority with broad and deep expertise. It should work with the office of the CIO (and office of the chief digital officer where it exists) to develop organization-wide rules, policies, automation, templates, best practices, and services for cloud adoption. It should also ensure that applications are ready for migration and identify the best path to migrate. Ultimately, the cloud center of excellence should create, evangelize, and institutionalize best practices and approaches for cloud. It is an indispensable value driver of cloud enablement—accelerating the overall cloud journey. “

About the Authors:

Jeff Sorenson, retired Army Lieutenant General (CIO/G-6), is President of A.T. Kearney Public Sector and Defense Services, LLC. 

Michael Hong is a principal at A.T. Kearney Public Sector and Defense Services LLC, and leads digital transformations efforts across the U.S. government. He can be reached at michael.hong@atkearneypsds.com. 

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2019/04/02/insights-sorenson-cloud-center-excellence.aspx

DOD Unveils Enterprise Cloud Strategy

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Image: Peggy Frierson/Defense Media Activity

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The Pentagon has published its long-awaited enterprise cloud strategy and sent it Monday to Congress.”

The document lays out the current defense IT operating environment, the department’s strategic objectives, approaches and guiding principles, and how it will implement.”

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“The DoD Cloud Strategy reasserts our commitment to cloud and the need to view cloud initiatives from an enterprise perspective for more effective adoption,” says the foreword, signed by acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan. “It recognizes our experience over the past five years and identifies seven strategic objectives along with guiding principles to set a path forward. It emphasizes mission and tactical edge needs along with the requirement to prepare for artificial intelligence while accounting for protection and efficiencies.”

Moreover, it emphasizes unity of effort across the DOD as the military increasingly adopts cloud. According to a release from the DOD CIO’s Office, “The department will gradually consolidate the disparate networks, data centers and cloud efforts and manage them at the enterprise level. Consolidation will enable the DOD chief information officer to provide increased security and reliability of the department’s digital infrastructure while achieving greater efficiency and cost savings.”

“This marks a milestone in our efforts to adopt the cloud and also in our larger efforts to modernize information technology across the DOD enterprise,” DOD CIO Dana Deasy said in a statement. “A modern digital infrastructure is critical to support the warfighter, defend against cyberattacks and enable the department to leverage emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

The strategy comes amid several high profile DOD cloud procurements, such as the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud and the $8 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) cloud, both of which are single-award contracts. Despite the Pentagon’s plans to award those contracts to a single vendor in each case, which has led to criticism from industry, the new strategy paints a picture of a multi-cloud DOD.

“The enterprise cloud strategy introduces concepts for both general purpose and special purpose clouds for specific mission needs,” the release says. “DOD will remain a multi-cloud environment because the complexity and scale of DOD’s mission requires DOD to have multiple clouds from multiple vendors.” JEDI will be the general-purpose cloud around which other special purpose clouds are built.

Congress too was critical of the JEDI contract during last year’s National Defense Authorization Act conference process, requesting a complete DOD cloud strategy.

In the strategy, cloud appears to be a stepping stone to other next-generation emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence. “An enterprise cloud will provide the common data and infrastructure platforms that will enable Al to meet the full promise of warfighter advantage,” the strategy says.

Deasy echoed that sentiment. “Cloud in itself just gives you compute capability,” he said. “It’s what you choose to build on top of that that matters. And in this case, I believe what DOD is going to want to focus on — really embrace and accelerate as fast as we can — is how we adopt and bring artificial intelligence into the organization.”

Additionally, an enterprise cloud environment will also modernize the department’s command, control and communications (C3) and improve cybersecurity, the strategy says.

“I always like to say if you put a great enterprise cloud in place, you then can use that as an enabler to do great things,” Deasy said.”

Feds Say 2019 Will Be A Year Of Hybrid Cloud Infrastructures

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Photo:  Getty Images/Motionx.com

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“Cloud computing will continue to be the premier topic in federal IT in 2019, but officials expect the former fervor for all-cloud, public solutions will shift more toward hybrid cloud infrastructures.”


“Federal executives said Tuesday at the VMware Public Sector Innovation Summit, sponsored by FedScoop, that they anticipate the complexity of agency networks will continue to make integrating cloud solutions with on-premise legacy systems an attractive option, as opposed to the costs of a complete cloud migration.

“There’s going to be more hybrid cloud solutions out there. Given, done,” said Maria Roat, CIO at the Small Business Administration. “We’re already working on an option at SBA. So while there’s hybrid solutions, we are already managing our entire on-prem [facilities], as well as all three of our cloud environments from cloud-based tools. So we are doing all of that now.”

The White House’s recent shift from the 2010 Cloud First plan — which favored an accelerated adoption of cloud services — to the Cloud Smart strategy, which encourages federal agencies to utilize those services in a way that best serves mission, reflects the challenges federal leaders face in transferring the totality of their IT infrastructures to a new environment.

Francisco Salguero, deputy CIO at the Department of Agriculture, said with considerations such as regulatory compliance and security concerns for the data federal agencies must maintain cloud adoption has taken longer to mature in the public sector.

“Looking at the adoption of cloud, it’s something that took some time,” Salguero said. “It took the government some time to understand how do we leverage that [technology] securely. We’ve got all of these regulatory requirements, security and a lot of requirements we also have to abide by, depending on the mission, to make sure we do that smartly.”

Hybrid cloud can help bridge that gap, he said, as offices like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) continue to promote wider cloud adoption and other agencies share their best practices on migration.

“Part of the reason it’s been so slow to adopt is because some of those legacy applications aren’t built for the cloud. So that’s where the hybrid and having the connection of multi-cloud becomes very important,” he said.

Salguero continued: “As we see applications and application rationalization really come into play, we start saying, ‘Okay, do we refactor, do we rebuild?’ When you start rebuilding, that multi-cloud type of environment becomes important so they can take advantage of not only cloud technology, but also the change in business process.”

Because agencies will continue to leverage cloud computing on their path to IT modernization, industry is meeting the demand with hybrid options, acting FedRAMP Director Ashley Mahan said. She expects that 65 cloud products could receive FedRAMP authorization in 2019, including a mix of hybrid solutions to help more agencies on-board more compatible capabilities.

“I truly believe that cloud is becoming that new normal across the board,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’m hearing a lot of hybrid cloud approaches, strategy from some different government organizations, as well as some multi-cloud approaches.”

Roat said while agencies may have security concerns about the move to the cloud, she has tried to encourage her staff to embrace creativity in addressing them because her agency’s mission demands new solutions.

“Figure it out because I need to get the right solutions for my business,” she said. “That solution could be a multi-cloud, hybrid approach, whatever that might be, but getting to the right solution and doing it securely. We’ve got 30 million businesses’ worth of data at SBA, we have to do it securely. We have to have those solutions in there and if it’s a multi-cloud approach or a hybrid-cloud, great.”

https://www.fedscoop.com/2019-year-hybrid-cloud-officials-say/

Google Not Bidding $10 Billion Pentagon Cloud Contract – “Artificial Intelligence Ethics Concerns”

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“REUTERS”

“Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Monday it was no longer vying for a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the U.S. Defense Department, in part because the company’s new ethical guidelines do not align with the project, without elaborating.”


“Google said in a statement “we couldn’t be assured that [the JEDI deal] would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications.”

The principles bar use of Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) software in weapons as well as services that violate international norms for surveillance and human rights.

Google was provisionally certified in March to handle U.S. government data with “moderate” security, but Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp have higher clearances.

Amazon was widely viewed among Pentagon officials and technology vendors as the front-runner for the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI.

Google had been angling for the deal, hoping that the $10 billion annual contract could provide a giant boost to its nascent cloud business and catch up with Amazon and fellow JEDI competitor Microsoft.

That the Pentagon could trust housing its digital data with Google would have been helpful to its marketing efforts with large companies.

But thousands of Google employees this year protested use of Google’s technology in warfare or in ways that could lead to human rights violations. The company responded by releasing principles for use of its artificial intelligence tools.

In its statement, Google said it would have been able to support “portions” of the JEDI deal had joint bids been allowed.

The news outlet Federal News Network first reported Google’s decision.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-google-pentagon/google-drops-out-of-bidding-for-10-billion-pentagon-data-deal-idUSKCN1MI2BZ

Move To The Cloud Is No Brainer – So Why Does Public Sector Resist?

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Cloud is No Brainer

“While the reluctance of our government to modernize imposes huge costs that are ultimately borne by taxpayers, the security threat posed by this late-to-the-game approach to cloud technology is real.

To this end, we must take strong action to modernize and better protect our military systems and personnel, and our civilian systems and data.”


“Every day, American consumers enjoy the benefits of cloud computing. From streaming music to online shopping to social media, our daily lives are shaped by cloud-driven technologies that enable virtually unlimited information and content to be more securely stored and accessed from any location.

These advances came from innovative companies that were unafraid to take risks and pushed forward new initiatives that have redefined how we interact with our friends, families, business associates and others.

Unfortunately, such innovation has not been replicated in the public sector. While pockets of success have emerged, such as the CIA’s private cloud for the intelligence community, dubbed Commercial Cloud Services (C2S), too many agencies have failed to fully utilize these more secure, cloud-based technologies.

Entrenched resistance to change

Many federal officials, to their credit, are now recognizing this situation and making strides to rectify it. In a report to Congress explaining its need for cloud computing, the Department of Defense summed up its current legacy information technology environment as, in a nutshell, “not optimized for the 21st century” – and the same can be said of much of civilian agency IT as well.

This lag by government agencies to modernize can be attributed to a host of factors, including rigid and often prohibitive technology acquisition rules, a “how-we’ve-always-done-it” culture within the federal bureaucracy, and the desperate pressure applied by the “Old Guard” providers of legacy IT to convince government customers to hold on to outdated systems.

In addition, a lack of understanding of the benefits of cloud computing also plays a part in emboldening some decision-makers to resist cloud migration and other innovative changes.

Infrastructure modernization researchers determined in 2016 that federal spending on IT per employee is almost $40,000, nearly four times the average per employee spend rate in other industries.

Other experts have quantified the “old technology” deficit – that is the share of technology that will need to be replaced because it is approaching its end of life. They have found that an estimated $60 billion is spent each year by the federal government simply to maintain legacy IT systems – and this problem is compounded by a younger federal workforce that increasingly is not trained to maintain half-century-old systems using COBOL or other dated programming languages.

We should not be sending our warfighters into harm’s way without the absolute best possible threat information sharing and communications systems, nor should we leave our non-military assets vulnerable to attack.

To illustrate the point, look no further than the 2015 Chinese espionage operation that compromised the background investigation files of 22 million federal employees and contractors. Government officials later admitted that these OPM files were not encrypted because the systems were simply too old. This is an unacceptable security risk.

Modernization Mandated

President Trump and Congress agree that government IT systems must be modernized. The President issued an executive order in May 2017 that said, “The executive branch has for too long accepted antiquated and difficult-to-defend IT,” and that, “effective immediately, it is the policy of the executive branch to build and maintain a modern, secure, and more resilient executive branch IT architecture.”

To achieve this, the President directed that each agency head use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) to better manage cybersecurity risk, and to “show preference in their procurement for shared IT services, to the extent permitted by law, including email, cloud, and cybersecurity services.” The President’s actions represent an aggressive move to revolutionize the federal government and provide better and more efficient services to the American taxpayer.

Congress has also signaled its strong support for this effort through passage last November of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. This new law authorized federal agencies to reprogram unused IT budget allocations to fund future modernization efforts and established a separate, government-wide fund to further support modernization.

The American consumer is already enjoying the benefits of commercial cloud computing and shared services. If the president and Congress agree, then moving the government in the same direction is a no brainer. Taxpayers should demand that their government stop wasting money on ineffective, inefficient, and unsecure systems.

A move toward shared IT infrastructure is not only the obvious path forward, it’s essential, and should be pursued expeditiously before billions more tax dollars are wasted and additional security breaches occur. Government officials should no longer heed the entrenched forces of resistance to innovation and instead deliver the best possible and most secure services to the American taxpayer.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2018/06/14/insights-wood-cloud-adoption-barriers.aspx

Tech Giants Play the DC Influence Game to Win Pentagon Cloud Deal

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Pentagon Cloud Deal

Illustration by POGO.

“THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT (POGO)”

In a few months, the Department of Defense (DoD) will pick a company to build a cloud computing system for the U.S. military.

The prize is a two-year contract that could end up being extended for a full decade and be worth billions of dollars. The winner could also obtain a virtual monopoly over the federal cloud-computing market for the foreseeable future.”


“The odds-on favorite to win the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract is Amazon Web Services, which currently manages a $600 million cloud system for the intelligence agencies and, through its network of “partners,” already has a stake in other federal cloud projects. Amazon’s dominant market position and past experience hosting sensitive government data give it a solid advantage over its primary competitors—Leidos, General Dynamics, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and Google. Despite pleas from these companies, who fear Amazon may have the inside track, DoD will not waiver from its plan to award JEDI as a winner-take-all, single-vendor contract.

Amazon is no longer an upstart online bookseller from Seattle. The company has taken its place among the federal government’s contracting heavyweights, employing the traditional methods of Washington influence in its quest to land the JEDI contract.

Amazon’s political action committee has given over $1 million in campaign donations to federal candidates in the past two election cycles, doling out the money to both parties in nearly equal shares. The company has spent over $37 million on lobbying since 2015, getting face time with Members of Congress and officials in the executive departments on matters involving cloud computing and myriad other issues. Those efforts appear to have paid off last year with the passage of the so-called “Amazon amendment,” a provision tucked into the defense authorization bill that will establish a program facilitating government purchasing through e-commerce portals like Amazon.com.

Amazon has also been taking advantage of the revolving door, hiring its share of former government officials. According to the watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics, 59 of Amazon’s 90 lobbyists (not all of whom worked, or are working, on cloud or IT issues) are “revolvers” who had previously worked for the federal government. Scott Renda, who oversaw an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cloud computing initiative during his tenure in the Obama Administration, joined Amazon Web Services in 2014. Former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney became Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs in 2015. Former U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung left the White House in 2016 to lead the government affairs division of Amazon Business. Rung spent two years as the leader of OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which plays a central role in shaping how the government purchases goods and services.

From the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the company enlisted the lobbying services of former Senators John Breaux (D-LA) and Trent Lott (R-MS) and former Congressional staffer Rich Beutel. Beutel, the former lead staff member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was once described as “a player at the forefront of cyber [and] contracting.” Between 2015 and March 2018, Beutel represented Amazon Web Services before Congress and the White House on a range of issues, including cloud acquisition and deployment. Amazon Web Services was also a clientof Sally Donnelly, a well-connected political consultant who recently served as a senior adviser to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and was a consultant on the Defense Business Board, a DoD advisory panel of private-sector executives.

Pentagon Metro Amazon AWS Ad

Amazon placed targeted advertisements for its cloud service in Washington, DC’s Pentagon metro station ahead of the Department of Defense awarding the JEDI contract. (Photo: POGO)

For added measure, Amazon is making its presence known on local magazine coversand on the walls and floors of the Washington Metro. This public relations blitz may actually be targeting two audiences: the DoD officials who will choose the winner of the JEDI contract, and local politicians in DC and the neighboring suburbs in Maryland and Virginia hoping to be chosen as the site of the company’s second corporate headquarters.

Pentagon Metro Amazon AWS Ads

Amazon placed targeted advertisements for its cloud service in Washington, DC’s Pentagon metro station ahead of the Department of Defense awarding the JEDI contract. (Photo: POGO)

However, victory for Amazon is not a foregone conclusion. The competing tech and defense heavyweights also know how to play the influence game. Most of the companies—particularly General Dynamics and Google—are keeping pace with Amazon’s level of spending on elections and lobbyists. The revolving door spins just as rapidly at Amazon’s competitors: more than three-quarters of Microsoft’s 90 lobbyists previously worked in the federal government, while the board of directors of Leidos currently boasts former senior Pentagon officials Gregory Dahlberg and Frank Kendall. The revolving door took a big turn in the other direction last year at General Dynamics when James Mattis left the company’s board to become Secretary of Defense.

Meanwhile, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Google vice president Milo Medin, and Microsoft board member Reid Hoffman serve on the Defense Innovation Board, where they advise DoD on technology and acquisition matters. Oracle CEO Safra Catz was a member of the Trump transition team. She recently got a chance to discuss the JEDI competition at a private dinner with President Trump, who has made no secret of his animosity toward Amazon. Perhaps Catz or someone else at the dinner mentioned that she and four other Oracle executives made a total of nearly $35,000 in campaign donations to one of the President’s staunchest supporters in Congress: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA). Oracle is reportedly leading a campaign with other tech companies to “unseat Amazon as the front-runner” for the JEDI contract.

DoD will award the JEDI contract in late September. For the next few months, Amazon and its competitors will flood the Washington area with lobbyists, campaign donations, attractive job offers, and eye-catching advertisements. The millions they spend now could pay off in the billions later.

In the meantime, we need to ask two important questions. First, is it a good idea to award the contract to a single vendor? The DoD reasons that scattering data across multiple cloud systems would inhibit the ability to access and analyze critical data, and that it has “multiple mechanisms” in place to prevent a monopoly. However, tech and federal procurement experts dispute the government’s justifications for making JEDI a single-award contract.

Second, should the government do more to develop an in-house capability to run a cloud system? The DoD will likely pay significantly more for a contractor to operate and manage the system, over which the contractor will retain exclusive ownership rights. Ten years is an uncomfortably long period of time to entrust such a vital function to one private company.”

http://www.pogo.org/blog/2018/06/tech-giants-play-the-dc-influence-game-to-win-pentagon-cloud-deal.html

U.S. Defense and Justice Departments Signalling Massive Cloud and Services Single Award Contracts

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“The DOD team leading the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement released the second draft of its working request for proposals Monday.  the contract’s single award acquisition strategy remains.

The FBI is interested in pursuing an “all-encompassing” $5 billion contract to provide all IT services across the Department of Justice.”

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“In second draft, DOD stands firmly by single award for JEDI cloud contract”

“Despite numerous questions and comments pushing for the Department of Defense to reconsider its decision to award a single contract for its forthcoming landmark commercial cloud acquisition, it appears the department isn’t budging.

The decision to award a single contract has drawn ire from all around the government cloud industry and largely driven the conversation concerning JEDI since its inception. The questions and comments attached to the new release of the RFP largely reflect industry’s refusal to accept that a single award would be in the best interest of the DODas it could handcuff the department to a single cloud provider for up to 10 years, limiting innovation and a failsafe in the event of an outage.

In many cases, the team’s response was: “Your comment has been noted. The requirement remains as stated.”

And many respondents asked for the written justification for a single award contract, which is required by federal acquisition law, to be made public. But DOD won’t indulge them “at this time.”

However, another frequent answer about teaming and subcontracting leaves the door open for vendors to get creative despite there being one award up for grabs. Asked if cloud service providers can partner together under a single prime contractor or some similar arrangement, the department responded, “Offerors may propose any kind of teaming/partnering arrangement so long as the proposed solution meets the requirements of the solicitation.”

https://www.fedscoop.com/jedi-cloud-contract-second-draft-dod-pentagon/

FBI weighs $5B ‘all-encompassing’ IT contract for Justice Department

The FBI is interested in pursuing an “all-encompassing” $5 billion contract to provide all IT services across the Department of Justice.

The bureau issued a request for information for a centralized contract covering a range of IT services that would be awarded in March 2019.

The FBI’s Information Technology Acquisitions Unit has been pursuing a new IT contract to replace the current $30 billion Information Technology Supplies and Support Services (ITSSS) blanket purchase agreement, which is set to expire in October. It’s unclear why the proposed new contract’s ceiling would be so much less than its predecessor, but since it’s an RFI, that could change based on industry feedback.

The new RFI outlines a possible indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with a one-year base period — followed by nine yearlong option periods — to start in March 2018. The new timeline envisions that a final solicitation would be issued in August and be due Oct. 5, but it makes no mention of a bridge contract for the expiring contract.

The new contract would be split into several sections, covering agile, development, operations and maintenance, engineering services, IT consulting, IT scientific services, cloud, Telecomm, IT services, cybersecurity, IT security services, and IT help desk support across the entire Justice Department.

Interested vendors have until April 20 to respond to the RFI.  FBI officials plan to hold a follow-up industry day April 30.

fBI officials also recently issued an RFI seeking information on a cloud computing solution.”

https://www.fedscoop.com/fbi-weighs-5b-enterprise-wide-contract/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Full Steam Ahead With Major Cloud Acquisition

Standard

Pentagon Cloud Full Steam Ahead

“NEXT GOV”

“The Defense Department is not letting blowback or criticism from industry slow down its emerging cloud strategy, which could see it award an enterprise contract worth billions to a single company by the end of 2018.

The contract would be awarded to a single cloud service provider for up to 10 years “to deliver services for cloud computing and platform services” for “all DOD organizations.”


 “The accelerated approach prompted industry concern and calls for the Pentagon to slow down or change course, but led by a Cloud Executive Steering Group reporting directly to leadership, the Defense Department is doing anything but.

“There has been no change in strategy for the CESG,” Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Evans told Nextgov. “The acquisition will be done as a fair and open competition with an industry day in early 2018.”

The next steps, as outlined in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, strategy, will be a draft solicitation for a “single-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract using full and open competitive procedures.”

Other contracts, according to the memo, could be issued for additional services, such as migration support, application modernization, change management and training.

The Pentagon’s aggressive timeline calls for initial migrations of data to the new contract by the first quarter of 2019.

Strategically, the Pentagon’s approach shares commonalities with that of the CIA, which ultimately selected Amazon Web Services for a 10-year enterprisewide cloud contract four years ago worth $600 million.”

http://www.nextgov.com/it-modernization/2017/12/pentagon-full-steam-ahead-major-cloud-acquisition/144707/