AT&T and Microsoft won multi-million-dollar contracts to provide enterprise IT-as-a-service for the U.S. Air Force.
AT&T’s $87.4 million award covers work at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, and Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Alaska.
Microsoft’s $34.4 million agreement covers Hurlburt Field in Florida, Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, and Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
The vendors will provide “experimentation of a secure, reliable, measured, commercial data and voice network in order to enable access to Department of Defense data and applications from DoD facilities, as well as enable access for mobile and remotely located users,” according to the contract announcements. Both should be completed by Sept. 30, 2021, and both are “service experiments,” in that the military wants to trial using private companies — as opposed to Air Force service members — to provide IT and networking services.
“The goal for enterprise IT-as-a-service is to try to move the Air Force from government-owned, government-operated IT to more of a service construct,” said U.S. Airforce spokesman Major Bryan Lewis. “This would free airmen from their traditional IT roles into more of a core cyber mission.”
The work doesn’t specify products from the two vendors. AT&T and Microsoft will determine what software and hardware are best suited to solve the Air Force’s IT and networking needs over the three-year period.
“This is a risk-reduction experiment, which will be executed on a limited-scale currently between these two companies in order to understand the merits and drawbacks of various commercial approaches,” Lewis said.
In an email, Leigh Madden, general manager, Defense at Microsoft, cited the company’s 30-year partnership with the Department of Defense. Madden said the new Air Force contract “is a recognition that as they look to move ever more demanding mission-critical workloads to the cloud they will need transformational solutions to provide comprehensive networking services, like Azure ExpressRoute Global Reach, that are easy to deploy, manage, scale, and monitor.”
AT&T did not respond to requests for comment.
JEDI Cloud Deal Looms
The Air Force contract wins come as Microsoft and other public cloud giants compete for the U.S. Department of Defense’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract.
In May Microsoft and Dell Technologies scored a six-year cloud contract “worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars” with the U.S. Intelligence Community, a multi-agency group made up of 17 government organizations. And in September 2017 Dell EMC, Microsoft, and defense contractor General Dynamics won a $1 billion contract to move the U.S. Air Force’s IT and communications to the cloud.