It takes time for a big government bureaucracy to change, so it should come as no surprise that the Department of Defense is still pondering how to make use of this “cloud” people keep talking about. The Pentagon is now in the early planning stages of deploying a cloud computing platform called JEDI, but it’s still looking for a contractor to build and maintain it. If you want to throw your hat in the ring, you’ll need a DVD burner.
The DoD issued an updated request for proposals (or RFP in government contractor parlance) this week. Included in the new RFP is a stipulation that all proposals be delivered by hand to the contracting office in Arlington, Virginia. The required format is where things get really strange. The DoD says that it will only accept proposals for JEDI saved to one or more DVDs. Furthermore, each disc delivered as part of a proposal needs to have the proposal volume number, solicitation number, submitter’s name, and more. Failure to adhere to the rules disqualifies the submitter.
JEDI is intended to be a long-term cloud platform for the DoD, and the contract is worth at least $10 billion. The Pentagon expects building and certifying the system will take around 10 years. JEDI should eliminate the need for local physical media like DVDs, which are easily damaged, misplaced, and stolen.
Part of this new submission restriction makes sense. Handing materials to a DoD official in person is more secure than sending it electronically. These documents could one day become the backbone of a secure government network. The medium is just strange, though. Most PCs don’t even have optical drives anymore, so someone at the DoD probably put in an order for a USB drive to read all the discs they’re about to get.
The Pentagon is looking for a single provider to handle all the infrastructure and management for JEDI, so big companies like Microsoft and Amazon are champing at the bit to send over their DVDs. In case you’ve understandably forgotten this factoid, a standard DVD holds 4.7GB of data. Presumably, the documents for a proposal, even a large government contract, will clock in below that threshold.
Still, DVDs are a bizarre means of local storage these days. Why not a USB thumb drive? The reason is probably classified — or just completely arbitrary.
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