The US military has put up $7.6 billion to run its secret email and business software in the cloud for the next 10 years.

The Department of Defense will run its less secure office systems from the cloud as well, after awarding its Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) contract to General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT).

The Microsoft Office 365 service will serve 3.15 million users with document software, messaging, content management and web conferencing. GDIT put it together with Dell and reseller Minburn Technology Group.

Office politics

Microsoft Azure Clippy Soldier
– Sebastian Moss/DCD

Some of the work required US data centers to have Impact Level 5 and 6 security clearance - which includes data classified "secret". Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure were the only suppliers that could meet that classification. It required commercial data centers to be at least 150 miles (241km) apart.

Outside the US, IL-5 and 6 workloads would run from the DoD's data centers in places such as Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Capodichino, according to DoD procurement documents. GDIT would still implement and maintain the office software, and the hardware and infrastructure required to run it.

The same computer services used to be provided to different branches of the DoD by disparate in-house systems and outsource partners.

The office systems would work with DoD's mobile warfare computing systems, said a statement of requirements published in January. It described a scenario where DEOS would run on a naval ship’s local data center, only syncing when a connection was possible.

"We are hopeful that it will operate within the disconnected, degraded, intermittent and low bandwidth (DDIL) environments that are anticipated in 21st century conflicts,” said deputy director Kenneth Bible, C4 Department of the US Marine Corps, in a statement.

It is not known how many other companies bid for the new contract, or if Microsoft itself bid. DEOS will last five years, with two options to extend the contract two years, and another to extend it a year.

DoD CIO Dana Deasy said DEOS would "streamline" the US military's use of cloud email and collaboration tools. They would improve security, she said, and increase information sharing.

DEOS got none of the public scrutiny and controversy that beset the DoD's other major cloud contract - the $10bn JEDI.

That contract, to do most of the military's other computing, was supposed to be awarded to either AWS or Microsoft this summer. But with protests, and criticism from the President , US secretary of defense Mark Esper put it under investigation.

DoD has one other cloud system of note: MilCloud 2.0, which serves it's "fourth estate" - the 28 agencies that are not part of the Army, Navy or Air Force. It includes intelligence, signals and missile defense. It awarded that contract to GDIT in 2017 for $498m, to run a cloud service run from DoD data centers.