Pentagon Comes Around to Multicloud Approach

The Defense Department has been moving aggressively to adopt cloud services for its data centers and security systems in recent years, and it is no longer looking so much at public cloud providers. Now, it is negotiating contracts with the private sector to provide security services and to build data centers.

The Pentagon’s Cloud Computing Lab has begun taking on new projects using IBM’s CloudStack, an open source product that provides the foundation for cloud computing in large enterprises.

Pentagon’s decision on Tuesday to cancel a proposed cloud computing contract with

Microsoft Corp.

s support for scheduling multiple vendors to get the job done is consistent with the IT strategy of many large companies and government agencies.

Many large enterprises are turning to multiple cloud technology infrastructure providers, in part to be able to choose services from different companies and not be tied to one provider. According to a report by the technology research firm, about three-quarters of the 850 medium and large businesses surveyed worldwide said they use multiple cloud providers in a survey conducted last year.

Gartner Inc.

If you try to make something work because you’re tied to a particular vendor or infrastructure, you’re solving the wrong problems, says Thomas Donnelly, CIO of BetterCloud Inc.

The New York-based company, which manages and secures its customers’ online applications such as Dropbox and Salesforce, primarily uses Google Cloud for its IT infrastructure, with some services provided by Amazon Web Services. IT managers often create ecosystems that allow them to leverage new technologies regardless of the vendor, says Donnelly, who in his previous role led the implementation of multi-cloud solutions. As technology continues to accelerate, [multi-cloud] is really the only way to stay ahead of the curve, he said.

The contract forJEDI was awarded to Microsoft in 2019.


Corbis via Getty Images

The Pentagon’s reduced cloud contract, called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, was intended to give the military access to services that better keep pace with technology. The contract was awarded to Microsoft in 2019. Inc,

who challenged the decision in court.

Pentagon officials said a new project, called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, will be open to Microsoft and Amazon. Other qualified bidders may

Alphabet Inc.


Oracle Corp.


International Business Machines Corp.

Officials said.

According to a Pentagon spokesperson, advances in cloud computing have made JEDI obsolete.

The changing landscape gives us pause, said John Sherman, the Pentagon’s acting chief information officer. JEDI was the right approach at the time, he added, but due to changing circumstances we are in a different situation today.

Federal agencies increasingly rely on the cloud, and it has become common for them to use multiple cloud providers, said Adelaide O’Brien, research director at Government Insights at research firm International Data Corp.

According to IDC research, many government agencies use their own private data centers to store and compute data, as well as public cloud services from Amazon Web Services, IBM, Oracle and others. Public cloud providers offer businesses remote storage and processing services.

Mike Kelly, CIO of Red Hat Inc, a subsidiary of IBM, says the biggest benefit for companies opting for multi-cloud strategies is that they avoid the risk of being stuck with one cloud provider that may change its pricing models or fall behind the competition for certain cloud services.

That means you can take advantage of multiple cloud services and benefit from innovation, options and pricing beyond a single provider, Kelly said.

The flip side, he added, is the need to ensure that technology providers work well with each other and with local technologies, commonly called the interoperability problem. This requires a platform or process to integrate the various cloud services into a usable format, he added. That way, you can maintain one workflow for most of your cloud projects instead of splitting up teams for Azure, AWS or Google Cloud Platform, he said, referring to the cloud services offered by Microsoft, Amazon and Google respectively.

There are many tools and systems that can help IT managers solve interoperability problems. They are available from companies like IBM and consultancies like


PLC, said

David Smith,

research vice president emeritus at Gartner.

Pentagon officials said a new project, called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, will be open to Amazon, Microsoft and other bidders.


Johannes Eisel/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Multi-clouds are largely inevitable, Smith said. Smith said companies want to leverage what they consider to be a cloud provider’s best capabilities, including those related to cloud storage, data analytics or artificial intelligence. Some companies store their data in multiple clouds to have a backup in case one cloud provider goes down, he added.

Organizations that continue to use a single cloud for most of their IT systems are likely looking for discounts on wholesale services or trying to minimize additional collaboration costs, such. B. train employees on different cloud platforms, says Bill Martorelli, senior analyst at research firm Information Technology.

Forrester Research Inc.

Some companies are also trying to outbid various public cloud providers for price concessions, Martorelli said.

But more importantly, he said, companies are attracted to different cloud providers for different capabilities, such as Google’s cloud for analytics and artificial intelligence and AWS for broad adoption by developers. My experience is that most large enterprises and governments are moving to multi-cloud solutions, he said.

Major technology companies are investing in data centers and competing for the $214 billion cloud computing market. The WSJ explains what cloud computing is and why big tech companies are betting on future deals. (Video 11/29/19)

Email Sarah Castellanos at [email protected] and Angus Lauten at [email protected]

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