Department of Defense CIO Dana Deasy described how DoD is approaching cloud services, including the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI), and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies during an interview on “Government Matters” on Sunday.

“The JEDI is what we’re referring to as a pathfinder,” said Deasy. “What we’re trying to do here is put in place an enterprise solution for building clouds,” he added.

Deasy also discussed why vendors were asked to present their JEDI proposals in person. “Cloud for us is all about solving for the missions across the Department of Defense … and having the potential suppliers come in and present their offerings is all about them articulating how they would solve for those missions, how they would technically stand up their clouds, how they would help us put in the governance and security, and the solution requires an in-depth, on-site discussion,” he said.

And he said JEDI, which is expected to be a single-provider contract, is just one of the department’s efforts involving cloud services.

“One of the conversations that’s lost in all this is that we are today already a multi-cloud, multi-vendor environment, and we will continue to be a multi-cloud, multi-vendor environment,” said Deasy. He said DoD will focus on “general purpose” and “fit-for-purpose” cloud environments, and asked, “What does the end state look like? It’s a world where we’ll have a combination of commercial clouds as well as internal clouds.”

As the department moves more towards cloud services, Deasy noted the importance of leveraging existing expertise within the Pentagon.

“DISA (the Defense Information Systems Agency) will have to be an important partner,” he said. “DISA will have an important role to play from an integration, network, and cybersecurity standpoint in this endeavor.”

The CIO also touched on the department’s AI efforts.

“I think it’s similar to the conversation on cloud. What we’re trying to put in place is an enterprise, scalable solution where we can bring the various National Mission Initiatives together into a common place and we can learn,” he said, citing DoD’s creation this year of its Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). JAIC is, he said, designed as “a place where we can bring in some of those next generation solutions, try them out, and make sure they’re vetted and they work for the mission set.” At the same time, the Pentagon’s engineering and research organizations will look toward the future of AI, he said.

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