Kevin Plexico, senior vice president of Information Solutions with Deltek, recently participated in a Q&A session with ExecutiveBiz covering the recent cancellation of the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.
During the Q&A session, 2021 Wash100 Award recipient and GovCon Expert Kevin Plexico discussed the impact the cancellation will have across the federal landscape, the positive developments and future opportunities for cloud services.
“As a long-time industry observer, when I see a multi-billion dollar, single award competitive procurement planned, I get my popcorn ready because you know it is going to be a very long and interesting movie to watch. The stakes are just so high.”
You can read the full Q&A session with GovCon Expert Kevin Plexico below:
ExecutiveBiz: Since most of our readers and people in the federal landscape don’t work for either Microsoft or Amazon they are probably thinking about how it directly impacts their companies. Short and long-term, how does it impact the federal marketplace?
“With the original plan to go down the path of a single major cloud platform provider and the award to Microsoft, most companies in the DOD technology ecosystem have been at work figuring out how they play and fit with the understanding that they need to ‘play nice’ in a Microsoft cloud environment.
This will have many rethinking that and wondering what path they should plan for going forward. Integrators and solution providers need to consider what platform or platforms they need to work in the cloud and prepare accordingly to be successful.
At this point, it appears companies will need to assume a multi-platform environment and approach it agnostically. In the near term, the cancellation will likely have the downstream effect of putting some projects depending on the JEDI platform, on hold or delaying them, until defense agencies have a better line of sight on what environment they will be in. This may slow some projects companies were expecting to either bid on or work on in the months ahead.”
ExecutiveBiz: What does the average GovCon executive think this means for cloud services?
“With the cancelation of the JEDI contract and the introduction of Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), the DOD appears to recognize that a multi-cloud, multi-vendor approach is better for them in the long run.
They have already indicated that AWS and Microsoft are the only viable bidders for their enterprise portion of JWCC but expressed an openness to adding others over time. Industry executives from integrators and solution providers are going to recognize that they too will need to embrace both providers to be competitive across the DOD.”
ExecutiveBiz: Will this impact the ability of larger information technology providers to more effectively form partnerships or will it create a heightened sense of competition?
“In the past, many integrators aligned with one of these major providers. But as both platforms have become broadly adopted, large providers know they need to be able to support and operate in both environments.
The interesting aspect of this is that rather than AWS and Microsoft in the fight for an all-or-nothing win, the competition will take place at a much more tactical level where they will be competing for their selection at the solution level across the DOD.”
ExecutiveBiz: Was this a decision, in your eyes, around technology and the ability to implement something this large? Did the protests and administrative challenges drag this toward cancellation, or was it a come donation of these factors or others not listed here?
“This acquisition was fraught with challenges from the start. Federal procurement is generally slow by comparison to commercial practices. That slowness increases exponentially as the size and complexity of the procurement increases – more still when it is set up for a single winner, making the stakes all or nothing. It is rare for federal procurement to reach the size of attracting the attention of Congress and the President. JEDI did just that.
Politics aside, historically when federal technology procurements are large-scale, single-award contracts, it is all too common that by the time the contract has gone from solicitation to execution (which, like JEDI, can often be measured in years), the pace of technology change has moved way past the requirements originally set out in the solicitation.
This is one of the many reasons agencies have moved to adopt broad-based, IDIQ contracts with many vendors (where they aren’t tied down to specific requirements) then using those contracts to issue task orders in smaller chunks that are more manageable to implement.
As a long-time industry observer, when I see a multi-billion dollar, single award competitive procurement planned, I get my popcorn ready because you know it is going to be a very long and interesting movie to watch. The stakes are just so high.”
ExecutiveBiz: What positive outcomes do you see resulting from this decision?
“For many companies, there are some positives to this. It gives those who may have already aligned with AWS a better chance to compete in the DOD going forward. It opens up opportunities for other cloud providers, of which there are many, that may have more niche capabilities to sell into the DOD without the JEDI obstacles.
It should create more competitive opportunities. However, in the near term, it may serve to slow the DOD’s move to consolidate cloud environments creating hesitation on certain cloud-dependent projects as they work to implement JWCC.”