back to article Pentagon admits it's now probing conflicts of interest at AWS over $10bn JEDI cloud deal

The US government has confirmed it is investigating whether Amazon's decision to rehire a former Pentagon staffer poses a conflict of interest to the $10bn JEDI cloud contract. Oracle is suing the US Department of Defense (DoD) over the 10-year mega-cloud contract, in which AWS is widely seen as a frontrunner. Big Red is …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    Oracle...

    ...might have a point but who'd want to use their cloud solution anyway. But surely the DoD should have two providers for the days when AWS goes tits-up. And now we know they are using AWS, surely the terrorists will target AWS. Knowing they are with only one provider means they just need to take that provider offline to give the DoD a very bad headache.

    1. deive

      Re: Oracle...

      I'm sure Oracle have never had any revolving doors with any government either. Kettle meet pot.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Oracle...

      There has always been some revolving doors between the government and industry. DoD is well known for this as ex-military work for military contractors and contractors get hired by DoD. Nothing new really. The only issue is how close the person was to specific project and whether they could influence the specs to favor a specific vendor too much. All government specs will favor a group of vendors by either by specific technical requirements or by the lack of some requirements. This is the way the game is played at all levels. You try to get some requirements in or out that favor a group of vendors over another. If done right, there will be a group (3 to 5 ideally) of qualified bidders so the bid is not a sole-source. Sole-sourcing is not easily done as it requires a lot more paperwork to justify it in Feraldom and the paper pushers hate extra work.

      So whether this will have any effect, I doubt it unless the specs are so specific that only AWS can meet them. Then there might an issue but the key is what is in the paper trail.

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    But surely the DoD should have two providers for the days when AWS goes tits-up.

    That's the reason that all the main cloud providers have multiple regions and multiple availability zones, so that a failure in one area can be worked around. Nothing new here, multiple sites that are physically separate and logically linked has been the norm for a very long time even for on-prem data centres.

    Going multi-cloud means that you can't take advantage of the specifics of any cloud vendor, but have to settle for the lowest common denominator functionality, which kind of defeats the purpose of having access to the vendors new sparkly technologies and the benefits it can bring.

    1. Milton Silver badge

      Kool-Aid

      "That's the reason that all the main cloud providers have multiple regions and multiple availability zones, so that a failure in one area can be worked around. Nothing new here, multiple sites that are physically separate and logically linked has been the norm for a very long time even for on-prem data centres.

      Going multi-cloud means that you can't take advantage of the specifics of any cloud vendor, but have to settle for the lowest common denominator functionality, which kind of defeats the purpose of having access to the vendors new sparkly technologies and the benefits it can bring."

      But only half of the story, isn't it?

      "the specifics of any cloud vendor" are frequently nothing more than incremental improvements—if they are even that—primarily intended to make it difficult and expensive for a client to move elsewhere. The idea that this or that cloud supplier has some super-secret-sauce which a client simply must have is just laughable. The services provided by the top three cloud vendors do not vary by performance, security, reliability or even cost sufficiently to make a telling difference. Choosing one is like selecting a mobile phone provider—cutting through all the contrived "advantages" and "USPs" and deliberately, arbitrarily complicated pricing mechanisms to discover that the latter are designed primarily to make it difficult for potential customers to perform a simple like-for-like cost:benefit analysis.

      "sites that are physically separate and logically linked" sounds great but (a) any such advantage is replicated by having different providers, and (b) if the probelm, as is so often the case, is one of software, there's a fair chance it is affecting geographically diverse centres anyway.

      The short answer is that if you lazily, short-sightedly, greedily allow your multi-million or -billion enteprise to become too dependent on any third party, whether outsourcer or cloud, they will contrive to entrap you and bleed you dry.

      So, if you've got a scrap of sense: Don't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kool-Aid

        "The short answer is that if you lazily, short-sightedly, greedily allow your multi-million or -billion enteprise to become too dependent on any third party, whether outsourcer or cloud, they will contrive to entrap you and bleed you dry."

        May I point you to the following statement in the DoD goals for this contract:

        DoD currently has about 2,500 data centers.

        “Our intent is to migrate as much as we can to a cloud environment and then regionalize those data centers,” Kinney said. “Maybe we only have 50 regional data centers across the department to support those folks that need to have a data center, a lot of legacy stuff.”

        Many of the existing data centres are already outsourced, I believe amongst around 60 different vendors with all of the big DoD suppliers in there.

        AWS already have a significant contract with the DoD for Milnet since 2013 and the DoD has been pushing for further consolidation.

        The arguments around cloud bleeding the DoD dry are already present in the existing supplier model - the AWS model provides a way of at least addressing some of the cost issues. In terms of USP's, already having provided services to the DoD for 5 years, having a number of DC's already built for Milnet with the ability to expand and operating at a scale that the DoD has requested all seem like pretty key things.

        Lookup Milnet and what the DoD have been trying to do to address costs and security concerns - for non-classified material, an AWS/Azure/Google solution (all three have big government data centres in the required areas) seem to match DoD's requirements a lot more closely than Oracle/IBM's proposals to start building DC's as soon as they win the contracts and to charge the DoD a significant amount in year one to meet those costs.

        While I'm unsure of the validity of Oracles case to challenge the awarding of contracts over conflicts of interest that appear to have been attempted to be managed, Oracles key problem is that they don't have submission that comes close to other vendors regardless of the conflicts of interest, but maybe the case forces a re-tender. If the re-tender requires a rapid build out, I suspect Oracle loses again for the exact same reasons they lost the first time.

  3. LateAgain

    Post interview discussion: "The forces are strong in this one"

    (Someone had to say it)

  4. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Flogging a dead horse

    Larry got his team late to the cloud game and is now getting annoyed as he's not invited to the party that G-Cloud, Azure and AWS are, namely because his offering is a good 5-10 years behind theirs.

  5. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    Oracle is gasping

    Having worked for the DoD as a civilian and contractor for nearly 15 years... Oracle's effort to show some sort of bias is a losing battle.

    Oracle has nobody to blame but themselves. Just for starters, their products are over priced and where security is paramount... Oracle scores low for number of vulnerabilities and timeframe to mitigate issues; often causing the DoD to spend more money and resources to deal with these issues until a patch is "Finally" released.

    Over the past several years, the DoD as a whole has been replacing Oracle solutions with other available systems during refresh. When another vendor's product can offer the same functionality with higher usability grades from end users, better security/patching at a lower cost... you're going to start losing business.

    Oracle sees this, and the only thing they can do is cry 'unfair' and 'bias' phrases.

    Even if Oracle some how can display bias in the procurement area of the DoD, you won't be able to get past the DoD's IT community who is sick of you.

    Instead of wasting money on a losing battle, you might want to reinvest it back into your products, lower your prices, and work harder on the usability aspect of ALL of your products.

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