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JEDI: Why We’re Protesting

The U.S. Department of Defense faces a critically important challenge as it solicits bids for JEDI, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. JEDI is intended to modernize and consolidate the defense department’s IT systems into an enterprise-level commercial cloud.

The importance of this transition cannot be overstated: JEDI will be the foundation for integrating advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality into America’s warfighting capability.

Unfortunately, JEDI, as outlined in the final solicitation, would not provide the strongest possible foundation for the 21st century battlefield.

For that reason, IBM today filed a protest of the JEDI solicitation with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

– IBM knows what it takes to build a world-class cloud. No business in the world would build a cloud the way JEDI would and then lock in to it for a decade. JEDI turns its back on the preferences of Congress and the administration, is a bad use of taxpayer dollars and was written with just one company in mind. America’s warfighters deserve better. –

JEDI’s primary flaw lies in mandating a single cloud environment for up to 10 years. Leading global enterprises want clouds that are flexible, provide access to the best applications from multiple vendors, and can smoothly transition legacy systems. JEDI is a complete departure from these best practices. It denies America’s warfighters access to the best technology available across multiple vendors, complicates the integration of legacy applications and walls off access to future innovations. JEDI’s single-cloud approach also would give bad actors just one target to focus on should they want to undermine the military’s IT backbone. The world’s largest businesses are increasingly moving in a multi-cloud direction because of security, flexibility and resilience; the Pentagon is moving in precisely the opposite direction.

JEDI turns its back on government-recognized best practices. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget issued a new government-wide cloud strategy, “cloud smart,” that specifically emphasizes the need for multi-cloud and hybrid solutions and calls for a “technology neutral” approach. That’s not what we see in JEDI, which also ignores the intent of Congress to ensure America’s warfighters benefit from healthy competition and access to multiple technologies from multiple suppliers.

Finally, the JEDI solicitation restricts the field of competition. Certain requirements in the RFP either mirror one vendor’s internal processes or unnecessarily mandate that certain capabilities be in place by the bid submission deadline versus when the work would actually begin. Such rigid requirements serve only one purpose: to arbitrarily narrow the field of bidders.

Throughout the year-long JEDI saga, countless concerns have been raised that this solicitation is aimed at a specific vendor. At no point have steps been taken to alleviate those concerns.

IBM Cloud clients include each of the world’s 10 largest banks, nine of the top 10 global retailers and eight of the top 10 airlines. The Pentagon is a massively complex global enterprise, and we know from experience with some of the world’s largest and most respected businesses that no single cloud environment, no matter how robust it may be, could meet all of its needs for up to a decade.

IBM has proudly supported America’s armed services for decades, and we plan to submit a bid that provides our warfighters as much flexibility and innovation as possible within the scope of the JEDI solicitation. It is our hope, though, that highlighting our serious concerns through this protest might create one last opportunity for this process to be aligned with commercial best practices, the desires of Congress and the Trump administration, and the best interests of our men and women in uniform – not to mention taxpayers, who will foot the bill.

  • Sam Gordy, General Manager, IBM U.S. Federal

Media Contacts:
Adam Pratt
Ph: (202) 551-9625

Lisa Meyer
Ph: (703) 309-7758

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