back to article US techies: We want to see Pentagon's defence of winner-takes-all cloud contract

The Pentagon's decision to hand a multibillion-dollar cloud contract to one vendor has come under renewed scrutiny, after an industry group urged Congress to make public the department's reports on the proposals. The IT Alliance for Public Sector wrote to the House Armed Services Committee this week to voice concerns about the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish my managers would appreciate this too

    "The cloud is only as secure, reliable, and competitive as the solutions that comprise it." ®

    They seem to think it is a magic land where nothing fails, and everything is done automatically with no thought involved...Never mind the DoD...

  2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Things will be very interesting should the cloudy storage suffer a prolonged (and catastrophic) outage.

    Let's face it - currently we have a select few instances of ISP's going TITSUP* due to cocking up their storage arrays.

    Big cloudy boys have their share of grief too, but they're also able to recover quickly from outages.

    What are the odds of a cloudy service getting hit with a prolonged** and catastrophic*** outage?

    *Total Inability To Supply Usual Pr0nz

    ** longer than a day, continuing for more than 2 or 3 days...

    *** all data is lost, or reverted back to more than 1 month prior.

  3. Gordon Pryra

    Whose brother in law was the vendor?

    nuff said

  4. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Boffin

    Terminology

    "fragmented and largely on-premise computing"

    The security people used to call that "compartmentalization".

  5. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Why do these "techies" hate America?

  6. Flakk

    Remember how George Lucas had a fit in the '80s when the media started referring to the "Strategic Defense Initiative" as "Star Wars"? I wonder what he thinks of the Pentagon appropriating the word "Jedi" for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program?

    I bet he's laughing his chins off.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      That doesn't mean what you think it means...

      Remember how George Lucas had a fit in the '80s when the media started referring to the "Strategic Defense Initiative" as "Star Wars"?

      Lucas is a pioneer when it came to marketing. He funded the second and third installments of his Star Wars franchise using funds gained from being able to sell the merchandising rights to various toy makers, et cetera. No-one had done anything like that before. While it might have seemed at the time that he was upset about the use of Star Wars in this context, he was really trying to keep his properties in the public eye. Like all such efforts, it's just mind tricks.

  7. EveryTime

    The real story is barely hidden under the wrapping of an industry organization: the incumbent government contractors aren't even close to having a competitive cloud system. They are pulling every string and calling in every favor to keep AWS from being the sole winner.

    The sales teams behind those contractors understand what will happen if AWS is the exclusive winner: it will open the gates to a sea change in DoD software use. The incumbent giants won't own the platform, and they don't have the people with the "cloud native" skills to compete. They'll quietly be eaten from below, and the instant deployment possible in the cloud means that they won't have warning when the tipping point comes.

    They desperate need this to *not* be a sole-source contract. Even a small fraction reserved for some other vendor gives them a roadblock to throw in front of fast-moving small teams: "It might work on AWS, but you can't deploy it until it is compatible on TivoliCould(tm) and WangCloud(tm), coming soon."

  8. Alister Silver badge

    So if this goes through, we can expect lots of dumps of Top Secret data on unsecured Amazon S3 buckets, I suppose.

    Open Government... Just not how we meant it.

    1. Kicker of Metaphorical Cats

      At least we would only get one letter in the mail, and one news story, about the breach rather than the constant trickle of government breaches!

      From an operational cost savings, single cloud makes sense. Depending on what metrics are being reviewed, it may even make sense from an anticipated uptime perspective. I also do not have a problem with the 10 year term; it is going to take 11 years (yes, more like 22) just to transition.

      The "government" part of a business decision is perplexing. It is public money, and the government is not supposed to pick winners and create losers with that money which something of this magnitude can certainly do. However, if they put a portion of the contract in the hands of IBM or smaller cloud then they are funding way too much of that smaller cloud, thus jeopardizing the way it operates (would become the ibmcloud.gov). Where as larger players (AWS, Azure, Google) likely view the DoD contract as an amazing win, but not funding their future. At the same time, using taxpayer money-- that is going to be spent regardless --to foster competition and innovation by spreading out the contract has its own merits.

      Tough call. I am interested in reading the documents should they ever be published for public review.

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    There's points to be made for "sole source" and also for "multi-sourching". Some items, the DoD insists on second-sources, on others... not so much. I do have a feeling though, that even going sole source for a "cloud", they'll still end up with a fragmented system as some departments won't give up their systems due to the bureaucratic mindset and turf wars.

    The other part of the equation has come into play yet... CongressCritters and pork for their home districts. So once that comes in to play and everyone has spouted their stuff, probably little will change.

  10. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Military procurement has been classic government SNAFU for most of the life of the republic. Look into the contract to build three or four ships of the line from the first Congress. (Quite a line, there.) Apparently, things were somewhat better for during the cold war, but the scandals have just been rolling out since the early nineties.

    As for the particulars here, most government data is NOT classified. I presume that the contract is not about TS-SCI stuff.

  11. Cynicalmark
    Devil

    Oh ffs

    For the amount they could spend a Pentagon owned and run system would be the solution-I mean come on chaps, you own the keys to every bloody patent office over there and could copy any technology easily then wrap it up as Top Secret and deny everything.

    What moron thinks a third party shitstem is secure? They didn’t even try to build any sort of compartmentalisation into it / multi environ fallover systems. These are just plain idiots who go all glassy eyed when someone says ‘cloud’. Ahhh fer feck sake. Grrrrrrr.

    I have repressed anger towards cloudy environs.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Oh ffs

      Compartmentalization is demanded by the healthcare & financial services, so the cloud providers are building it. But don't hold your breath--it's not in the architectures.

  12. wsm

    Losing their minds

    This is typical of government single-source contracting. The procurement officers lose their minds over the vendor's hypnotic marketing hype and they buy only what they are told is good for them.

    Like this fellow: https://regmedia.co.uk/2015/09/07/head_in_the_cloud.jpg

  13. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    The cloud ...

    ... might be a money saver when we are at peace. But what will the DoD do when we go to war? And some aggressor generates an EMP over the top of Amazon's AWS data centers? Or Microsoft's Azure sites? Have they been hardened? Was that part of the Pentagon cloud contract?

    I suspect that, unless someone at Fort Fumble has really laid an egg, the JEDI contract will have to include special mil spec hardware and facilities to keep wartime logistics, planning and communications functions up and running. So, not really much money saved if they do this right.

  14. Scott Marshall
    Trollface

    Cloudy with patches of pain ...

    "The cloud is only as secure, reliable, and competitive as the solutions that COMPROMISE it." ®

    There - FTFY.

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