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Microsoft classified cloud to debut in early 2019

With only days to go before the deadline for bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion single-source Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract, Microsoft announced its classified offering will go live in time to handle the business.

In an Oct. 9 blog post, Julia White, Microsoft corporate vice president for the Azure cloud, announced that the company is launching cloud regions enabled for secret or level 6 workloads in the first quarter of 2019. White also confirmed the company's intent "to deliver Azure Government services to meet the highest classification requirements, with capabilities for handling top secret U.S. classified data."

This announcement is significant because the JEDI solicitation specifies a timeline by which a winning vendor has to be able to deliver secret and top secret services to the DOD. Secret-level certification is required six months after the award, with top secret to come after nine months.

When the JEDI proposal was initially released in draft form, technology trade groups were concerned that only Amazon Web Services could meet these requirements, because of its work providing classified cloud services for the CIA. AWS is widely seen as the front-runner for the contract.

Oracle is protesting the JEDI solicitation in advance of the submission deadline.

JEDI bids are due Oct.12. The deadline was extended from Sept. 17, following industry feedback about its planned timeline for the procurement given its size, specs and scope.

White didn't single out the deadline or the contract in her blog post.

Also on the JEDI front, Google decided it was going to sit out the Pentagon's cloud procurement, in part because of employees' ethical concerns about lethal artificial intelligence capacity that could be supported by the DOD cloud and in part because, apparently, it couldn't meet the classified requirements.

"We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles. And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications," Google said in a press statement.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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