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Pentagon’s New Cloud Contract Represents ‘Holistic’ Approach to IT

DISA leadership brief how partnerships will impact new cloud efforts.

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Pentagon's New Cloud Contract Represents 'Holistic' Approach to IT
Department of Defense Chief Information Officer John Sherman, Defense Information Systems Agency Director U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, Department of Defense Deputy CIO for Information Environment Lily Zeleke, and DISA Hosting and Compute Center Director Sharon Wood hold a press briefing on the Department of Defense’s award of the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2022. Photo Credit: DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza

The Defense Department’s recently awarded Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract intends to integrate edge computing into DOD’s cloud portfolio while anchoring ongoing cloud modernization efforts across the department, according to comments from Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) leadership.

“JWCC is not just a contract, it’s an environment,” said DISA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner at an AFCEA DC event Wednesday. “We are more aligned today from a CIO and cyber standpoint than we have ever been in the department.”

DOD awarded the JWCC to the four major players in cloud service provider (CSP) space: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Microsoft and Oracle.

“JWCC brings two things, commercial cloud and compute to the edge,” said JWCC Program Manager Ryan McArthur at the event. “From a department perspective if you look at hybrid cloud, we’re trying to transition from our current on-prem working environment and move current workloads into the cloud space. Not everything needs to be with a CSP. Some are older systems that don’t need to be lifted and shifted but need to be redone. Where does it make sense from a CSP perspective, where does it make sense to maintain those on premise? Our goal is to look at hybrid cloud holistically.”

McArthur’s comments echo those from DISA Hosting and Compute Center (HACC) Director Sharon Woods during a recent GovCast interview with GovCIO Media & Research. HACC is responsible for all of DOD’s data centers, private cloud and commercial cloud networks. Woods described JWCC as the foundation for DISA’s various “cloud accelerators,” such as the Vulcan DevSecOps program for the Fourth Estate, infrastructure-as-code and more.

“[It’s] kind of like building a house where you need a foundation, you need electricity, you need plumbing, there are certain things that you have to set up in a cloud environment to host your applications that always need to be done and so rather than forcing every single mission partner to figure that out on their own, why not pre-package it so that you can accelerate their adoption of cloud, hence the cloud accelerator moniker,” she said.

McArthur said a new program office is helping integrate JWCC into DOD’s overall “hybrid-cloud roadmap.”

“Their goal is to look at all the offerings HACC has, it’s really about the infrastructure-as-code solutions, Vulcan program, STRATUS (DISA’s private cloud), different scenarios inside there where we can maximize the capabilities the department has invested in internally and also what the CSPs and partners bring to the table,” McArthur said.

Skinner and DISA Operations and Infrastructure Director Don Means called on industry to “partner” with DOD and help the department maximize use of these current capabilities and others.

“Scalability is key,” he said. “If there are innovative ways for us to accomplish the mission and get the advantage, we’re all in.”

“A great partner helps us understand how we can be more efficient and effective with what we’ve already got,” Means added.

Going forward into 2023, DISA aims to build on the success of its current cloud offerings and minimum viable products, such as the Vulcan program, and integrate them into JWCC.

“We’re going to be very focused on OCONUS cloud [this year] that is really looking at how do we take cloud capabilities and get them to the point of need, which for the Defense Department is where our warfighter operates?” Woods said.  “We have access to these great cloud capabilities now through JWCC, and it’s going to be taking some of those capabilities and packaging them up in a way that can be consumed by the warfighter out where they are in theater as well as leveraging data centers with private clouds so that we have this fusion of data center technology, private cloud technology and commercial cloud technology globally.”

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