The US Department of Defence has announced that it is killing its cloud computing project known as the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure, or JEDI. The DoD said it had already initiated contract termination procedures.
The official reason is that due to continued delays of the project's launch, JEDI, a cloud computing platform that would have been installed on top of all of the Pentagon's specialised clouds, "no longer meets [the DoD's] needs" due to "evolving requirements and industry advances".
"With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI Cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps", the Pentagon said in its statement.
The reason for the project’s constant launch delays lies in the troubled way in which it was awarded. First, the process was hindered by the intervention of Oracle, one of the main contenders, which argued that one of its competitors, Amazon with its Amazon Web Services (AWS), had a conflict of interest with the DoD. Another delay was caused by President Donald Trump. He interfered in the awarding process in 2019, demanding that the Pentagon investigate alleged favouritism towards one of the two remaining contenders – Amazon.
The JEDI contract was awarded to Microsoft in the end, but Amazon was quick to dispute the decision with a lawsuit. The company's then-CEO Jeff Bezos claimed that the awarding had been influenced by Trump, who wanted "to screw Amazon out of the JEDI Contract". Some media outlets alleged that the then-POTUS held a grudge against the billionaire over the critical coverage of his presidency by The Washington Post - a newspaper owned by Bezos.
In a recent development in Amazon's lengthy legal battle over the JEDI contract, the US Court of Federal Claims refused to dismiss the lawsuit of the tech giant, which is now led by the former head of the AWS division. However, prior to this, the Pentagon warned it might drop the JEDI project for good if delays in its implementation persist and the lawsuit isn't dismissed.
Now that this warning has become a reality (albeit under another pretext), the Pentagon is still not giving up on its plans for a cloud computing platform. This time it is called the "Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability" (JWCC) and should satisfy both Amazon's new CEO Andy Jassy, who fought for the success of AWS, and Microsoft, since both are set to be awarded contracts for the new project.
The Pentagon announced in its 6 July statement on the termination of JEDI that only two US companies fulfil the requirements set before the contractors for the JWCC, Amazon and Microsoft, citing "available market research". Now the DoD is awaiting the two companies' proposals for building a multicloud and multivendor platform that meets its needs. The Department of Defence noted, however, that it will "immediately engage with industry" and do new market research to look for more contenders, vowing to negotiate with them as well, should they meet the requirements set out.