The single vendor requirement ultimately doomed the DoD’s $10B JEDI cloud contract – TechSwitch

    When the Pentagon killed the JEDI cloud program yesterday, it was the tip of an extended and bitter street for a venture that by no means appeared to have an opportunity. The query is why it didn’t work out in the long run, and in the end I believe you’ll be able to blame the DoD’s cussed adherence to a single vendor requirement, a situation that by no means made sense to anybody, even the seller that ostensibly received the deal.
    In March 2018, the Pentagon introduced a mega $10 billion, decade-long cloud contract to construct the subsequent technology of cloud infrastructure for the Department of Defense. It was dubbed JEDI, which apart from the Star Wars reference, was brief for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.
    The thought was a 10-year contract with a single vendor that began with an preliminary two-year possibility. If all was going nicely, a five-year possibility would kick in and eventually a three-year possibility would shut issues out with earnings of $1 billion a yr.
    While the overall worth of the contract had it been accomplished was fairly massive, a billion a yr for firms the scale of Amazon, Oracle or Microsoft isn’t a ton of cash within the scheme of issues. It was extra concerning the status of successful such a high-profile contract and what it will imply for gross sales bragging rights. After all, in the event you handed muster with the DoD, you might in all probability deal with nearly anybody’s delicate knowledge, proper?
    Regardless, the thought of a single-vendor contract went towards standard knowledge that the cloud offers you the choice of working with the best-in-class distributors. Microsoft, the eventual winner of the ill-fated deal acknowledged that the one vendor method was flawed in an interview in April 2018:
    Leigh Madden, who heads up Microsoft’s protection effort, says he believes Microsoft can win such a contract, nevertheless it isn’t essentially the very best method for the DoD. “If the DoD goes with a single award path, we are in it to win, but having said that, it’s counter to what we are seeing across the globe where 80% of customers are adopting a multicloud solution,” Madden instructed TechSwitch.
    Perhaps it was doomed from the beginning due to that. Yet even earlier than the necessities have been absolutely identified there have been complaints that it will favor Amazon, the market share chief within the cloud infrastructure market. Oracle was significantly vocal, taking its complaints on to the previous president earlier than the RFP was even printed. It would later file a criticism with the Government Accountability Office and file a few lawsuits alleging that your entire course of was unfair and designed to favor Amazon. It misplaced each time — and naturally, Amazon wasn’t in the end the winner.

    While there was numerous drama alongside the way in which, in April 2019 the Pentagon named two finalists, and it was in all probability not too shocking that they have been the 2 cloud infrastructure market leaders: Microsoft and Amazon. Game on.
    The former president interjected himself instantly within the course of in August that yr, when he ordered the Defense Secretary to evaluate the matter over issues that the method favored Amazon, a criticism which to that time had been refuted a number of instances over by the DoD, the Government Accountability Office and the courts. To additional complicate issues, a guide by former protection secretary Jim Mattis claimed the president instructed him to “screw Amazon out of the $10 billion contract.” His objective gave the impression to be to get again at Bezos, who additionally owns the Washington Post newspaper.
    In spite of all these claims that the method favored Amazon, when the winner was lastly introduced in October 2019, late on a Friday afternoon no much less, the winner was not in reality Amazon. Instead, Microsoft received the deal, or at the least it appeared that means. It wouldn’t be lengthy earlier than Amazon would dispute the choice in court docket.

    By the time AWS re:Invent hit a few months after the announcement, former AWS CEO Andy Jassy was already pushing the concept that the president had unduly influenced the method.
    “I think that we ended up with a situation where there was political interference. When you have a sitting president, who has shared openly his disdain for a company, and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DoD, to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal,” Jassy stated at the moment.
    Then got here the litigation. In November the corporate indicated it will be difficult the choice to decide on Microsoft charging that it was was pushed by politics and never technical benefit. In January 2020, Amazon filed a request with the court docket that the venture ought to cease till the authorized challenges have been settled. In February, a federal decide agreed with Amazon and stopped the venture. It would by no means restart.
    In April the DoD accomplished its personal inside investigation of the contract procurement course of and located no wrongdoing. As I wrote on the time:
    While controversy has dogged the $10-billion, decade-long JEDI contract since its earliest days, a report by the DoD’s inspector basic’s workplace concluded immediately that, whereas there have been some funky bits and potential conflicts, total the contract procurement course of was truthful and authorized and the president didn’t unduly affect the method regardless of public feedback.
    Last September the DoD accomplished a evaluate of the choice course of and it as soon as once more concluded that Microsoft was the winner, nevertheless it didn’t actually matter because the litigation was nonetheless in movement and the venture remained stalled.

    The authorized wrangling continued into this yr, and yesterday the Pentagon lastly pulled the plug on the venture as soon as and for all, saying it was time to maneuver on as instances have modified since 2018 when it introduced its imaginative and prescient for JEDI.
    The DoD lastly got here to the conclusion {that a} single-vendor method wasn’t the easiest way to go, and never as a result of it might by no means get the venture off the bottom, however as a result of it makes extra sense from a expertise and enterprise perspective to work with a number of distributors and never get locked into any explicit one.
    “JEDI was developed at a time when the Department’s needs were different and both the CSPs’ (cloud service providers) technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature. In light of new initiatives like JADC2 (the Pentagon’s initiative to build a network of connected sensors) and AI and Data Acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within DoD, and changes in user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments to execute mission, our landscape has advanced and a new way ahead is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and nontraditional warfighting domains,” stated John Sherman, performing DoD chief info officer in a press release.
    In different phrases, the DoD would profit extra from adopting a multicloud, multivendor method like just about the remainder of the world. That stated, the division additionally indicated it will restrict the seller choice to Microsoft and Amazon.
    “The Department intends to seek proposals from a limited number of sources, namely the Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), as available market research indicates that these two vendors are the only Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) capable of meeting the Department’s requirements,” the division stated in a press release.
    That’s not going to take a seat nicely with Google, Oracle or IBM, however the division additional indicated it will proceed to observe the market to see if different CSPs had the chops to deal with their necessities sooner or later.
    In the tip, the one vendor requirement contributed enormously to an excessively aggressive and politically charged environment that resulted within the venture by no means coming to fruition. Now the DoD has to play expertise catch-up, having misplaced three years to the histrionics of your entire JEDI procurement course of and that may very well be essentially the most lamentable a part of this lengthy, sordid expertise story.

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