DISA to let milCloud 2.0 expire in May

The Defense Information Systems Agency told the House and Senate Armed Services Committees that it will move on from its five-year-old cloud platform effort in ...

The Defense Information Systems Agency is letting its milCloud 2.0 offering expire in May 2022.

Federal News Network has learned that DISA told the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Dec. 14 that it will not pick up the third option period with GDIT, which was supposed to happen in early June.

DISA awarded a contract to CSRA in June 2017 to develop and run the commercial cloud offering. GDIT bought CSRA in April 2018 for $9.7 billion.

The milCloud 2.0 contract included a three-year base with five one-year options, and it was worth as much as $498 million. This June would have been the third option period for the program.

A DISA official with the Hosting and Compute Center said in a statement to Federal News Network that while the department has a critical need for on-premise cloud, DISA has determined that moving forward with the milCloud 2.0 program is not in the best interests of the government to meet that requirement.

“The milCloud 2.0 contract is projected to sunset May 20, 2022. DISA will work closely with existing milCloud 2.0 users to mitigate impacts to mission and support migrations on that timeline. The agency is committed to working closely with existing milCloud 2.0 users to mitigate impacts to mission and support migrations before the environment is sunset,” the official said. “Once the contract expires, the environment will shut down, so there can be no waivers to the published timelines. We will work closely with existing milCloud 2.0 users to mitigate impacts to mission and support migrations whether to commercial cloud or another environment.”

A GDIT spokesperson offered no specific response to the news.

“GDIT successfully executed the milCloud 2.0 program and met all contractual requirements. We continuously enhanced milCloud 2.0 with new capabilities and delivered on-premise and general-purpose cloud services to meet demand and advances in technology,” said a GDIT spokesperson in an email to Federal News Network. “GDIT will continue to support customers currently leveraging milCloud 2.0 and stands ready to partner with the Department of Defense as they continue to evolve their enterprise cloud strategy.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee said they have some concerns about DISA’s decision.

“[We] have requested briefings and additional information from DISA,” the spokesperson said.

An email to the House  Armed Services Committees seeking comment was immediately returned.

JWCC to fill cloud gaps

The decision to let milCloud 2.0 expire comes on the heels of DISA moving forward with its Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), choosing cloud services from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google and Oracle in November.

The DISA official said the decision to sunset milCloud 2.0 is entirely separate from the acquisition strategy for JWCC.

“The department’s hosting and compute needs to support the warfighter are complex. The HaCC has and will continue to offer a variety of hosting and compute options, including JWCC, and DISA datacenters, so that mission owners can determine how to best meet the unique requirements of their mission,” the official said.

Defense Department deputy chief information officer for information enterprise, Danielle Metz, described for the first time to Federal News Network on Dec. 9 how JWCC would work. On the surface, it seems like DoD is using the milCloud 2.0 model in many ways, making the procurement process for JWCC customers easy and with the least amount of burdens as possible.

Sharon Woods, the director of DISA’s Hosting and Compute Center (HaCC), said Dec. 14 after the AFCEA DC Luncheon that her office would be releasing a new cloud strategy in the coming months.

“It’s important to remember the capability gaps that JWCC will be solving for in the first place,” she said at the lunch. “There are capability gaps that are unmet in all classification levels out to the tactical edge at scale.”

Woods said JWCC isn’t in competition with other cloud capabilities. She said JWCC is targeted at meeting certain gaps.

After the event in an interview, Woods said those gaps are around the acquisition of cloud services and the access to secret and top secret cloud instances, which haven’t necessarily been available, or at least easily accessible, to the entire DoD.

“DISA, at its core, is a combat support agency that provides enterprise IT for the entire Department of Defense. So within the Hosting and Compute Center we will award JWCC, and through that remove a lot of the barriers that slowed down mission owner,” she said. “Contracting, acquisition, task orders and how the funding flows are very real barriers — as is security. Having pre-accredited capabilities, when you think about the totality of what will be delivered under JWCC, will provide a super-highway for mission partners to be able to quickly place orders and get capabilities without having to go through their 9-to-12 month or even longer acquisition process. That doesn’t exist departmentwide. I think there have been some really great efforts in different areas, but what DISA brings to the table is scalability across the entire enterprise, which I think is one of the differentiators to JWCC.”

When asked about milCloud 2.0 delivering a similar services as she described, Woods said, without discussing specific program names, that there are requirements for on-premise cloud hosted in DoD data centers, as well as in the commercial cloud environment.

“It’s not a binary choice. It’s really important that these things are interoperable and thought about as an ecosystem of capabilities along with the traditional data center footprint,” she said. “All of these programs bring different capabilities to the table, and part of the HACC’s job is to help enable them to work better together. So from a mission owner’s standpoint, they see unified hosting and compute because we are doing the work behind the scenes to help make these capabilities stitch together.”

milCloud popular among services

But this makes the case for letting milCloud 2.0 expire less than 100% clear.

The platform seemed to be popular among military customers. As of March, MilCloud 2.0 included 4,500 workloads from 89 different defense mission partners. It was on the cusp of achieving impact level 6 for security, meaning the services and defense agencies could run secret workloads on the cloud instance. MilCloud 2.0 offered access to Amazon Web Services and GDIT was hopeful to add Microsoft Azure cloud offerings in the future.

GDIT said in the past that users of milCloud 2.0 could move workloads to the cloud in a matter of days or weeks, versus months, and pay for it with a transfer of funds.

Not everyone was surprised by DISA’s decision. John Weiler, executive director of the IT-Acquisition Advisory Council (IT-AAC), said the decision to let milCloud 2.0 expire is part of a bigger change going on across DISA.

“MilCloud needed to migrate to an on-premise cloud services provider versus selling cloudy parts,” Weiler said. “DISA Director Lt. Gen. [Robert] Skinner is making the right move to sunset milCloud and become more agile in embracing commercial innovations. Clearly it did not pass his new ‘murder board’ review.”

Skinner said at the DISA Forecast to Industry event in October that the agency has too many tools and too much duplication, and the goal is to optimize what it has at minimal cost.

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