back to article Pentagon sticks to its guns: Yep, we're going with a single cloud services provider

The US Department of Defense (DoD) still intends to choose just one vendor for its multibillion-dollar cloud contract – amid complaints from Oracle's co-CEO that such a plan "makes no sense". The Pentagon made waves last month when it published a draft proposal document calling for just one cloud services provider to run the …

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  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    It is great and well until that singular cloudy provider goes TITSUP* for whatever reason

    I would have spread it fairly across more than one cloudy provider.

    Suppose we'll all have a nice chortle should a lot of sensitive military data gets leaked...

    1. Alister Silver badge
      Headmaster

      It is great and well until that singular cloudy provider goes TITSUP* for whatever reason

      SYNTAX ERROR: Reference not set to an instance of an object...

      Unfulfilled reference / dangling footnote detected.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Ooops, I am so sorry.

        TITSUP*

        *Total Inability To Serve Usual Philez

        (or use your own as deemed fit)

  2. Craigie

    Single payer

    'I cannot think of a single commercial enterprise that has only one cloud' - your ring mate.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Single payer

      I imagine that Oracle only put their own corporate stuff on their cloud - there is one for him...

      Ditto Azure, AWS . Ooh that’s 3 now.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going by Oracles history....

    ...you would have <insert cloud provider> and Oracle Cloud.

    6 months down the line they would change their licensing terms to state that if using a competitors cloud, your licensing is now 2.5x cost, even if not running oracle stuff on it.

  4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Oh, what is the clause for data leakage? Any punitive measures that can be taken against cloudy service provider?

    Should be interested to know that.

  5. Emmeran

    Ludicrous

    Like the Fed can't build their own secure cloud. Outsourcing DoD cloud needs is flat out stupid, multi-sourcing it would be even worse.

    For the price of one Carrier the DoD could build the world's largest and most secure Cloud and thereby guarantee our sensitive data is safe. Some things should never be privatized.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Ludicrous

      Following up on your comment - what is the possibility that Faceboob et al can hoover up such sensitive military data via your purdy home compoota?

      I agree with you, there's data that can be stored in the cloud, then there's data that need more security.

    2. midcapwarrior

      Re: Ludicrous

      In theory that's what SIPR is, a DOD/Government secure "cloud".

      Unfortunately the performance and capabilities are far behind any commercial cloud.

      And as WikiLeaks shows most secure doesn't mean completely secure as long as humans are involved.

    3. panoptiq

      Re: Ludicrous

      "Some things should never be privatized"

      You are correct... in theory. The reality is that the DoD does not posses the expertise needed to implement the most secure cloud without significantly sacrificing performance. Therein lies the rub.

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Devil

    One cloud

    One Cloud to rule them all, One Cloud to find them,

    One Cloud to bring them all and in the darkness bind them ...

  7. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    My 2c...

    "The objective of achieving commercial parity seems contrary to the duration and single award aspects of this contract. The single-award removes competition, which was the very impetus that drove the current cloud market.

    Also, the potential duration for this vehicle is 10 years, nearly equal to the age of the cloud market. This duration fails to recognize how fast this market is changing… The structure of this vehicle locks DoD into one vendor for the next decade."

    OK the first objection sounds ludicrous to me. The award of this to a single party removes competition? Surely the award of a multi billion dollar contract should ENSURE a very high level of competition to try and win the contract. It should mean the Pentagon can drive an extremely tough bargain.

    The second objection is much more reasonable, in regards to vendor lock in. However, with clever contract wording, advancements in cloud technology (got that sounds awful - bloody wishy washy sales terminology), advancements in off premises distributed computing technology (much better) could be part of the contract and mean that the vendor lockin does not cause problems in a few years time as things advance.

    10 years is an age in computing, but at least a contract that long should drive a bloody good price. Provided the management oversight is strict and the contract wording tight, DoD should get a good deal...

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    He probably stopped listening when he discovered it wasn't Twitter.

  9. LoPath
    Facepalm

    Cloudz?

    Insert meme here: What if I told you that a cloud was just someone else's computer?

    In this case, several computers. How many several-several computers does it take to make them happy? It makes perfect sense to have all of the computers under one cloud with one service provider. As long as that service provider has diverse and alternate paths and carp-loads of redundancy, what's the issue? If the other bidders take issue with how the contracting process is being run, they can file a formal protest. They know how to do this. Let's not confuse contracting with politics.

  10. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    AWS?

    But OPOTUS has vowed eternal vengeance on Amazon for some slight or other.

    Witness how he characterizes Amazon's use of the Post Office (as I understand it a model that could have been lifted from Mr Trump's own low-bid playbook except money actually changes hands) as "taking advantage" rather than "job creation" - and here I thought OPOTUS was all about the job creation, too.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not chosing Oracle for the Cloud...

    ...is the first sensible thing the orange-faced, idiot man-baby has ever done.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So some sales....

    ..bod has come along and convinced them it will be cheaper to go full cloud (it won't). And going with one provider. Great idea and when that one provider goes tits up you'll be without data for however long they are down.

    I'm not a fan of cloud. Yes, one of the reasons is that I fear it will make me redundant at some point in the near future.

  13. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    So, three years on ...

    Our company has this excellent integrated battle management, tactical, strategic and logistics planning, inter-services coordination and communication, autonomous AI platform command and control applications suite. Just the thing you've been looking for. And a a very reasonable price.

    Oh, sorry. It isn't supported on Azure.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: So, three years on ...

      "Oh, sorry. It isn't supported on Azure."

      Yet. Obviously, the winning cloud provider will have a scheme whereby third-party suppliers to the DoD can pay them lots of cash to make their product lines compatible with the DoD's preferred cloud.

      Ten years on, the cloud provider has the additional advantage during the bidding for renewal that almost every third party's products are compatible with their cloud but (quite possibly) not the opposition (or, at least, not demonstrably so). So they get the renewal. Repeat ad infinitum.

      Who pays? Well, the successful cloud provider makes a shed-load of dosh from the third party suppliers. Those suppliers pass on the costs (now anonymised) to the DoD, which forks out using tax-payers cash. So, er, I guess it is US tax-payers who pay.

      Initially. Of course, the next stage is for it to become a requirement all across NATO.

      Free market economics: it's great. Someone ought to tell the US government about it. At the moment, they appear to believe in the magic money tree.

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: So, three years on ...

        "can pay them lots of cash to make their product lines compatible with the DoD's preferred cloud"

        Sorry, not interested. We have a lot of paying customers (including some NATO members, who aren't locked into an unsupported platform) and a limited number of developers. None of which we want to divert to a (very likely futile) task of getting anything stable on Azure. We aren't an 'anonymized' third party vendor who sells through Microsoft. Our reputation for technical competence is more important than a slightly larger pile of cash.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, three years on ...

        @ Ken Hagan

        Does that you wonder if the family of OPOTUS is buying into a preferred vendor and or software companies?

  14. Milton Silver badge

    And in an alternate universe ...

    And in an alternate universe ... the fauna infesting the Trapezoid would have long since built and be maintaining a highly scaleable, efficient and secure computing system, on-prem inosfar as many distributed bunkers can be such, with a dedicated workforce of military specialists who have exactly the right attitude to do IT and do it right (much more so than most civilian IT "professionals", in truth). They would hurl your bullet-riddled corpse out the window of a third-floor office on the Acute Angle after you so much as breathed the suggestion that the world's biggest military and custodian of ~3,000Mt of nuclear fire should put any of its data or process on systems it didn't control and which are renowned for unreliability, expense and insecurity. Even suggesting that seemingly anodyne stuff like data from Human Resources Command could be "cloudified" should be enough, in that world—where the phrase "social engineering attack" is actually understood, and taken seriously—to get you five years in Leavenworth.

    If any organisation on the planet has an armour-plated case for building its own cloud; well-guarded and fortified places to distribute it amongst; the type of people and training to get it done; and the budget to make it happen: it is surely the US military.

    I like to believe that in the parallel world, where people are not all completely, mouth-breathingly thick, the Trapezoid is doing it right. While here, in a universe where a cretinous orange man-child can be President, the Pentagon is following up its almost treasonous mismanagement of the F-35 fiasco with something even dumber and, amazingly, perhaps even more damaging to America's defences: moving to cloud, where the only worthwhile questions will be: First, how completely will the taxpayers be screwed for poor-value pork-riddled rubbish this time? - and Second, will the expensively dysfunctional insanity of this decison become obvious before the (one) chosen provider's systems and architecture become a crumblingly obsolete mess; or after?

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Rise and Rise of the Class Classic Amazon Warrior. Dianas and Aphrodites on Cruising AIMissions

    But the plan came under fire from industry groups and vendors who argued it would limit competition and innovation, ..

    The Pentagon made waves last month when it published a draft proposal document calling for just one cloud services provider to run the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud program for all branches of the military.

    Those two statements are at odds with each other if the JEDICloud Program is Open Tendered to All and Sundry.

    The comment .... The objective of achieving commercial parity seems contrary to the duration and single award aspects of this contract. The single-award removes competition, which was the very impetus that drove the current cloud market. ... is easily mitigated and negated with the Cast Iron Clad Guarantee that Any and ALL Better Future Offerings will be Contracted to Provide JEDI Cloud Services and Servers.... with Absolutely Fabulous NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Tools Delivering Live AI Goods as Earthly Assets ...... with Practically Remote Virtual Accesses to a Heavenly Devil's Lair/Greater IntelAIgent Game Player Home Grown Grounded Environment/Grand AIMaster Fields being a Premium Prime Attraction for Self-Actualisation and Universal Realisation with Myriad Demonstrations of ITs Potent Phormations for General Presentation/Mass Multi-Media Managed BroadBandCasting with Advanced IntelAIgent BetaTesting of Future Live Operational Virtual Environments and Alien Space for Mass Recolonisations on/of Earth?

    DARPA/IARPA SkunkWorks Stuff I presume, and can even assume, to leave behind all of the pedestrian legwork which is a zealously guarded secret for reasons of Sublime InterNetional Security, and need not be further discussed out in the Wild Wacky Open where IT is Free to Air.

    Is the US DoD Pivoting Towards a Presenting Omniscience in Locked and Loaded CyberIntelAIgent Fields/Private and Pirate Live Operational Virtual Environments?

    Both Pandora and Cassandra would like to tell Venus, Mars is Immaculately Captured and Perfectly Maintained for COSMIC Detention and Attention to Volcanic Eruption.

    NEUKlearer State Secrets for Pondering On and Sharing with Truly SMARTR Great Friends and LOVERs ..... Highly Accommodating Acquaintances/Right Royal Barges that be as a Leading Light to Passing Ships in the Night .

    Nurse, have you another bottle? This one is reading empty.:-)

  16. MajorDoubt
    WTF?

    How Insane

    why does the Pentagon not do all this inhouse. ??????, you can't trust any for profit

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: How Insane

      Almost no one does any more, because the coloured pencil department has won. If it doesn't have (at least) one of cloud, agile or devops in the title then no IT Manager is interested these days. Security scores an awful lot less points on buzzword bingo these days.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How Insane

      I suspect the Pentagon does not have the expertise. Building a large cloud is very much a recent thing, and people who know how to do it are not willing to change jobs, not at the scale this would need.

  17. sisk

    I can think of no level on which this makes sense, especially in terms of defense. Depending upon which cloud vendor they go with there could be a single or a very short list of facilities where the Pentagon's data resides, which, to my mind, is a security disaster no matter how you look at it.

    So, just as a thought experiment, suppose Amazon is awarded this contract. Great. AWS currently has the biggest slice of the market, so it seems like a sensible choice. Amazon has just 4 or 5 AWS data centers in the US (and I think it's a pretty safe assumption that any contract involving Pentagon is going to include a stipulation that all data physically stay in the US). That means a single enemy submarine loaded with cruise missiles could wipe out the entire Pentagon cloud in a single strike. In a wartime scenario it's not difficult to imagine that happening. This problem does not go away completely because the Pentagon has multiple cloud providers, but it does become less of a problem as you add more providers.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Just a thought. Cut out the middle persons. I bet the Kremlin has lots of good IT people and plenty of storage capacity and would offer a good deal for ready cash.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wouldn't they build their own bunkered data centres, but using one of these companies base implementation?

    3. midcapwarrior

      Actually there is a push to add OCONUS (outside US) data centers to reduce latency and improve performance particularly for the Navy Pacific Rim. Think Hawaii or Guam.

  18. Zwuramunga

    Jedi?

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

  19. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Why doesn't DoD do this in house?

    And why one contract to rule them all? It's not all about controlling the contract, it's about also a bit about the office of the secretary of defense exercising control over the fractious clans within DoD. Given four possible contract awards, each service would immediately end up with it's own incompatible cloud. Because they hate each other. Come budget time, the enemy is not ISIS or whatever is on offer, it's the USN, or USAF, or.... If OSD can find the one cloud to rule them all, then it eliminates a lot of potential stupidity. Even if it costs more, that's a plus.

    Anyone remember the NMCI abortion? Navy and Marine Corps were supposed to pioneer the glorious world of outsourcing through this, with Army and Air Force watching. When it turned out to be a total cluster fsck, the Marines pretty much pulled out and USA, USAF ran away screaming - leaving Navy holding the bag.

    Not sure what Oracle is complaining about - not obvious to me they have a cloud with enough scale to compete in this game. A wisp of smoke rising from a crack pipe is NOT a cloud.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Why doesn't DoD do this in house?

      Because they do not have elite executive access to specialist sub-contractor expertise nor Proprietary Intellectual Property rights to necessary future intensive mass reprogramming of Paramilitarised Assets Software and Greater IntelAIgent Game Firmware which is not AI Vapourware.

      To tend to deny it ensures that they will never avail themselves of new weapons and strategies that deliver success rather than compound former campaign failures.

  20. DougS Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Watch where the contract goes

    Bet it doesn't go to someone you'd think of as a cloud provider like Amazon. It either goes to a traditional defense company like Raytheon (any of whom can easily afford to build a cloud of whatever size is needed from what they'll end up charging) or to some company no one has ever heard of which will essentially resell someone else's cloud at a huge markup.

    After it is too late for the DoD to change course 60 Minutes will expose that some seedy figure like Eric Prince is behind it, using connections to the White House or Pentagon to get a shady deal that ends up benefiting those involved in the selection process to the tune of billions. Anyone who has been paying attention to all the ethical lapses in Trump's cabinet knows that the swamp was not only not drained, but is deeper than ever and filled with larger scarier creatures than before.

    1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Watch where the contract goes

      @DougS, yeah... I read what you said and you are probably 100pct correct. Raytheon, BAE, Northrup, Lockmart, Boeing. Pick one. I was kind of hoping for someone, you know, competent. We should start drinking immediately!

    2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Watch where the contract goes

      "some seedy figure like Eric Prince is behind it"

      More likely some outfit like Whitefish Energy Holdings. Who was just going to sub it all out to Tencent Holdings anyway.

  21. Peter Quirk

    Missed opportunity to force standardization of basic cloud APIs

    In the past, the DoD has required second-sourcing agreements for semiconductors. However, the incompatibility of cloud services APIs means that no second-sourcing is possible. If the DoD writes to the AWS APIs, their code can't use Azure or GCP. Likewise if they wrote to he Azure APIs, they can't mix and match AWS or GCP services. The DoD could use its leverage to level the playing field and define a selection of APIs to be offered by all providers, regardless of any copyright claims that might be made.

  22. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Sounds like the "fix is in" to me...

    " – made it impossible for firms other than AWS, which already holds government contracts, to apply."

    Pretty much sums up who's getting the contract.

  23. IGnatius T Foobar

    The Fix Is In (tm)

    When a request for bids is written this way, it almost always means that they've already decided which vendor they're going to select, and they're just "going through the motions" so that no one can accuse them of cronyism.

    I certainly hope the selected vendor is not AWS. There's already enough animosity there.

  24. panoptiq

    BIG BLUE!!!

    IBM for the win!

  25. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    However it turns out, and whichever way it runs, it will be extremely interesting to watch.

    + but +

    does it mean that the Pentagon will trim the Army's IT workforce? I mean, they're outsourcing their storage, so the IT bods dedicated to storage will have to get a pink slip?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      workforce reduction

      That's the easy part. This is the military, after all. They just send them back into the infantry.

      Now what to do about all the staff officers and contractors who report to them: that's going to prompt some creativity.

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