Several IT industry groups are raising concerns that the Pentagon could award a contract potentially worth billions of dollars to a single cloud provider, a move the groups argue could give one company an unfair advantage while also locking a key federal agency into one company’s technology.
The Defense Department has issued a solicitation asking for input from vendors on infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service offerings and follows a September memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan calling on the agency to accelerate its cloud migration.
The agency plans to award the contract in fiscal 2018, but several industry groups, along with major cloud companies such as IBM and Oracle, have early concerns after the DOD published a document justifying a sole-source award to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for an Air Force cloud contract, according to The Washington Post.
In response to the Pentagon’s cloud solicitation, the IT Alliance for Public Sector responded to the DOD’s solicitation by “detailing why a single cloud, one-size-fits-all concept would be bad for DoD as well as for industry, “ according to Federal News Radio.
“A department cloud comprised of multiple interoperable offerings — each honed by a different provider based on its learnings from other sophisticated enterprise deployments — would ensure the department obtains the benefits of competition to achieve best value for both warfighter and taxpayer. In fact, almost all Fortune 500 counterparts have established multi-cloud architectures because no one cloud solution meets all of their mission and business application requirements,” wrote Trey Hodgkins, ITAPS senior vice president for the public sector, in a letter to DoD. “In addition, selecting only one cloud provider drastically impairs competition in the future. The costs to migrate data from one system to another are likely to be high, deterring the department from deviating from the incumbent — even if the incumbent’s future technology is clearly inferior — when the contract comes up for rebidding years from now.”
A Pentagon spokesman said the contract “will be a full and open competition” and that the agency is still evaluating “how many contracts will best meet DOD’s needs,” per The WaPO.
But some major cloud providers are still worried they could be left out of a major contract, while also causing the DOD to miss out on innovations from other companies.
“America’s military deserves access to every possible technology that can give them an advantage on the battlefield,” said Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal. “Locking the Pentagon in to a proprietary, sole-sourced cloud environment would eliminate the cost benefits of vendor competition and wall off the U.S. military from new cloud-based innovations in areas such as data security and advanced analytics where other providers are investing heavily.”
Oracle Senior Vice President Ken Glueck agreed.
“The American taxpayer and the warfighter deserve a transparent and fair competitive process that delivers the most capable technology in defense of the nation,” he said.