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US Defense Shifts From Vendor Lock-ins to Multiple Providers for Cloud Project


It’s safe to say that the United States Department of Defense is now veering away from the old system of locking in a single vendor to handle key projects in the Pentagon – and its latest initiative, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) project – is working proof of that.

Considered one of the most contentious initiatives at the Pentagon, US Defense officials have decided to award four leading companies equal shares in the JWCC. This essentially puts an end to any legal issues regarding the project which is expected to update defense-centric IT needs along with commercial cloud services. The deal itself is worth around $9 billion.

For this particular project, the Pentagon has opted to work with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Microsoft, and Oracle, essentially ending an extended debate following the awarding of a previous contract to Microsoft as the sole supplier.

Why the Shift from Vendor Lock-ins?

Previously, the Pentagon would award major projects to a single supplier in what is referred to as a vendor lock-in. However, not all these lock-ins have proven beneficial to the agency over the years.

A vendor lock-in in terms of cloud services could mean either one of two things. On one hand, it means dealing with a single service provider which handles all matters pertaining to the cloud. However, it could also mean restricting the organization to the use only of applications and resources provided by this one vendor – and a lack of options and alternative solutions could spell trouble in the context of national defense.

Likewise, the notion of taking on a major project would bring a windfall for a solo provider, but it smacks of monopoly and unfairness to other major players in the cloud services sector. 

Given how the JWCC covers all the branches of the military, there was certainly room for each of the companies involved to pool their resources, so to speak, and offer solutions appropriate to the specific needs of these branches.

What’s the Project All About?

Competition aside, the JWCC is US Defense’s way of bringing cloud resources and solutions to different aspects of operation, including any armed or strategic engagements overseas. 

Initiatives like the Joint All-Domain Command and Control Project would benefit from the approach, as it would provide a more convenient and efficient way of connecting sensors throughout the military system while supporting AI technologies developed for related tasks.

In any case, the inclusion of several high-profile service providers is a welcome shift from the old single-vendor approach as it minimizes the possibility of legal disputes and ensures that the Pentagon has access to multiple options for various cases.

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