Sometimes $10 billion isn’t as much as you think.

It’s true that when you look at the bottom line number of the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer size of it, and the fact that it’s a one-vendor deal. The key thing to remember as you think about this deal is that while it’s obviously a really big number, it’s spread out over a long period of time and involves a huge and growing market.

It’s also important to remember that the Pentagon has given itself lots of out clauses in the way the contract is structured. This could be important for those who are worried about one vendor having too much power in a deal like this. “This is a two-year contract, with three option periods: one for three years, another for three years, and a final one for two years,” Heather Babb, Pentagon spokeswoman told TechCrunch.

The contract itself has been set up to define the department’s cloud strategy for the next decade. The thinking is that by establishing a relationship with a single vendor, it will improve security and simplify overall management of the system. It’s also part of a broader view of setting technology policy for the next decade and preparing the military for more modern requirements like Internet of Things and artificial intelligence applications.

Many vendors have publicly expressed unhappiness at the winner-take-all, single vendor approach, which they believe might be unfairly tilted toward market leader Amazon. Still, the DOD, which has stated that the process is open and fair, seems determined to take this path, much to the chagrin of most vendors, who believe that a multi-vendor strategy makes more sense.

John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research Group, a firm that keeps close tabs on the cloud market, says it’s also important to keep the figure in perspective compared to the potential size of the overall market.

“The current worldwide market run rate is equivalent to approximately $60 billion per year and that will double in less than three years. So in very short order you’re going to see a market that is valued at greater than $100 billion per year – and is continuing to grow rapidly,” he said.

Put in those terms, $10 billion over a decade, while surely a significant figure, isn’t quite market altering if the market size numbers are right. “If the contract is truly worth $10 billion that is clearly a very big number. It would presumably be spread over many years which then puts it at only a very small share of the total market,” he said.

He also acknowledges that it would be a big feather in the cap of whichever company wins the business, and it could open the door for other business in the government and private sector. After all, if you can handle the DOD, chances are you can handle just about any business where a high level of security and governance would be required.

Final RFPs are now due on October 12th with a projected award date of April 2019, but even at $10 billion, an astronomical sum of money to be sure, it ultimately might not shift the market in the way you think.


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