The U.S. Department of Defense is the latest government agency to get behind cloud computing. The Defense Department is on the lookout for a contractor to build out a $450 million cloud computing initiative that will include a variety of cloud architecture and services.

Issued by the Defense Information Contracting Office, the draft for a request for proposals is in pre-solicitation mode, but the plan for the organization is to look for a commercial IaaS provider that support the end user requirements of the Department of Defense. According to a notice on the FedBizOpps.gov website, the Defense Department is looking for an IaaS provider that can provide it with cloud-based storage, virtual machines, database and web hosting services.

"It is envisioned that services delivered under a future award must fulfill a set of common enterprise-wide requirements," according to the notice.

A $450 million contract may be out of the realm of the average IaaS provider, and so it's likely the contract will eventually be awarded to one of the larger players. The contract's length is intended to be one year from the date the contract is awarded (a date that is still to be determined), but if all goes well, the lucky IaaS provider could receive contract extensions through to 2017.

Whichever company wins the contract is poised to become the cloud services provider for the entire Department of Defense for the coming years. And it's a potentially very lucrative deal for the right IaaS provider.

Considering the requirements of government departments, especially something as sensitive as the Department of Defense, it's reasonable to expect there will be a rather large private cloud element to the cloud computing contract. Not exactly a small request, by any means, so it will almost certainly be beyond the means of most cloud services providers.

The channel may not be able to play a direct role in the Defense Department's cloud computing initiatives, but depending on which IaaS provider scores the deal, could it be possible some elements of the contract could be sub-contracted out to partners? We'll have to wait and see.