back to article This is not the cloud you're looking for.... Oracle's JEDI mind tricks work as Trump forces $10bn IT project to drop out of warp

The Pentagon is putting its controversial winner-takes-all $10bn cloud contract, dubbed JEDI, on hold as it investigates whether the whole process was biased in favor of Amazon. A US Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed to The Register earlier today that Defense Secretary Dr Mark Esper, who got the top job about a week …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Some Infighting?

    While I doubt the actual JEDI arrangement is fundamentally biased in a legal sense. Its size makes it biased against mid-size players like the Minions. It is not a specific technical issue but scope of the contract and whether someone like the Minions could put together a workable package. If the scope is broken up, then more mid-size players will be able to bid on the various pieces. Give the scale of the project, I am not sure if this is necessarily a wise choice as the idea was to have one point of contact to yell at not 5 or 10 points who could blame shift.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some Infighting?

      Some background reading on JEDI provides interesting information.

      The DoD is being pillaged by some of its vendors (I will leave the reader to decide if IBM and Oracle fit into this list) and the DoD has been under significant pressure during the last three administrations to try and reduce those costs which are approaching $20bn/year.

      JEDI is about controlling spiraling government (as opposed to public) cloud spending costs (currently $1.2bn/year and likely to reach $1.5bn/year in 2012 if JEDI is not implemented) and beginning to shutdown legacy data centers by consolidating ~300 facilities into AWS/Azure/Google plus ~100 others. IBM are fighting this because they run a lot of the legacy facilities, Oracle are fighting this because they were depending on the easy US Govt money to pay for their cloud expansion. The DoD are looking to reduce the number of vendors because each vendor increases the security/interconnect overheads for the larger DoD environment.

      One of the causes of the spiraling costs is the DoD currently covers the cost of EVERYTHING associated with a vendor setting up a new data centre (which happens to match Oracle and IBM's proposed JEDI bids) while Azure and AWS have existing commercial arrangements with their providers allowing them to meet the DoD's requirements without incurring costs for purchasing land/building facilities etc.

      Does this stop small players entering the market? Yes. Are Oracle and IBM actually small players? Could IBM/Oracle have structured their bids differently to avoid the need for lengthy implementation delays and high up front costs (i.e. caused by building new DC's from scratch including the acquisition of land)?

      To put this in UK terms, this is a PPI-type venture where the government and vendors share some of the commercial risk. Azure and AWS are happy to meet those terms, others have continued to operate using the traditional "scrape the pork barrel dry" methodology.

      TL;DR: JEDI isn't about a new outsourcing deal or moving to public cloud. Its about consolidating existing vendors to try and reduce costs. Smaller vendors with compelling solutions are likely to continue to get funding, but legacy vendors with old school government pricing models are likely to lose out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some Infighting?

        The funny things is that I did this some 15 years ago elsewhere. The goal was consolidation, yes, but also normalisation - all this little islands have their own contracts, terms and security processes which makes it very hard to manage it and clean it up.

        That lack of oversight does, of course, greatly benefit the providers. The customer, not so much because it makes improving security and processes across the board nigh impossible, and this would have cleaned that up..

        The fun bit is that they indeed had just about the best vendor for this, Amazon, but thanks to Trump it is now likely that Russia will still get a look in.

        It is thus that I predict with a great degree of confidence that it will all go to Microsoft's Azure :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some Infighting?

          >> it is now likely that Russia will still get a look in

          Ummm... if you read the news, it was: the Obama Administration & Clinton Secretary of State that sold off Uranium assets to the Russians; Clinton Campaign that went through a UK foreign spy to acquire Russian Propaganda; the FBI who laundered Russian Propaganda through the wife of a sympathetic Democrat government official through the unknowing FISA courts; Big Tech sympathetic to the Russian Propaganda, keeping it alive for close to 4 years, including Amazon's cousin The Washington Post.

          If anyone is not terribly interested in allowing Russia to "get a look in", it seems Trump is the only guy with a vested interest to stop that, since everyone else's hands have Russian Blood dripping all over them.

  2. Youngone Silver badge

    Let me get this straight

    So if you don't like what the courts decide in the US now, you pay someone on Fox News to tell Mr. Trump how naughty the other team are, and he over-rules the court?

    That's a really stupid way to run a country.

    1. vaporland

      a really stupid way to run a country?

      almost as stupid as putting your entire DOD IT infrastructure into AWS?

      Actually, putting your entire DOD IT infrastructure into AWS is exponential magnitudes more stupid.

      Agree 100% with the review, this was a bogus fixed contract from the get-go.

      For reference, see Capital One hack of AWS and 100 million customer accounts.

      That was done by a relative amateur.

      Imagine what an H1B visa holder from Pakistan ISI or China PLA could do...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        If only they had thought of that and had a dedicated DoD data center to host it and security cleared staff to run it.

        Would you mind dropping the US military a note warning them of this, they will be ever so grateful ?

        1. MalIlluminated

          Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

          The concern I have is that assuming Amazon retains contractual exclusivity, I'm betting the political will to restrain their anti-competitive behaviors and dubious data-collection practices will evaporate rapidly. We have a tradition here in Ummerikuh, although it's probably shared throughout the world: do not screw with your tier-one military supplier.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

            We have a tradition here in Ummerikuh, although it's probably shared throughout the world: do not screw with your tier-one military supplier.

            You have just provided the reason why Microsoft really, REALLY wants this deal.

      2. jliv

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        I haven’t seen any evidence of this contracting being fixed, but I’m open to seeing some.

        I would prefer they split the contract between Amazon and Microsoft. Oracle and IBM couldn’t meet the requirements of this contracting in their wildest dreams.

        As for CapitalOne, no, that’s simply not the case. The hack took place on CapitalOne app//web servers that were running on AWS infra. This was entirely on CapitalOne, and they have said as much publicly.

      3. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        Yes, but did the fault like with Capital One or AWS?? Would you blame BMW if someone drives a car into a wall because they are a shit driver ???

        1. OssianScotland Bronze badge

          Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

          In most other cases, no, but BMW?

        2. Dabbb Bronze badge

          Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

          It was AWS employee who got access to Capital One data.

        3. Grunchy

          Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

          I would blame Tesla if it tried to drive under a trailer and chopped my head off, yeah I'd definitely blame Tesla. No matter how bad a driver I might otherwise have been.

          1. Psmo Bronze badge

            Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

            I would blame Tesla if it tried to drive under a trailer and chopped my head off, yeah I'd definitely blame Tesla

            I'm not sure you'd be in a state to blame anyone.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        Agreed, I've got a much better idea. The best approach would be to give an equal share of the contract to every cloud provider regardless of whether they have proven hyperscale cloud experience or the services you need. This way you can also make your security and infrastructure standards really complex and almost impossible to understand or manage thus ensuring that you put a halt to that dangerous 'agility' thing that all these cloud peeps keep harking on about.

        Another side benefit is that you can also hire tons of lawyers (on all sides) to fight about whose fault it is when something does break and make sure you don't progress. What's not to like?

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        If I buy an HPE server and connect it via a public IP address directly to the internet via a switch and then got 'hacked'.

        Would claim that HPE servers are unsafe as they got 'hacked' or presume that I was insecure and got hacked?

        AWS isn't magically secure against people who don't know what they are doing and do things insecurely.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

          "AWS isn't magically secure against people who don't know what they are doing and do things insecurely."

          True. But then this stuff gets marketed to non-IT people who don't know what they're doing so as to bypass the inconvenience of those who do.

          1. sketharaman

            Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

            Totally agree. That's exactly what the problem with Cloud is. Cloud provider's marketing says, "Cloud helps you eliminate IT admin costs". Decision maker tends to assume that mundane stuff like backup done by IT admin will be taken over by Cloud provider. Only much later they find out that backup is not included in the basic cloud plan.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        "almost as stupid as putting your entire DOD IT infrastructure into AWS?

        Actually, putting your entire DOD IT infrastructure into AWS is exponential magnitudes more stupid."

        If you understood the scope of JEDI, you wouldn't be suggesting this.

        This is standardizing on AWS for government cloud development to try and reduce spiraling costs from using a common vendor and amounts to 5% of the annual IT cost. Including all DoD projects and assuming JEDI goes to AWS, we are likely to see <10% of the DoD's IT infrastructure managed by AWS, a similar amount managed by Azure, ~5% managed by Google under special projects (i.e. not part of the government cloud and access heavily restricted) leaving ~75% for other vendors to fight over.

        If the other vendors are competitive, that percentage is likely to remain, if not, then AWS and Azure will grow and between them they may reach 40% by my guess.

        "For reference, see Capital One hack of AWS and 100 million customer accounts."

        The US Government cloud is not publicly accessible or part of existing publicly accessible AWS facilities. Any breach of a FedRAMP approved cloud facility would likely result in a major re-think of IT security models as they are effectively private data centers with heavily controlled connectivity.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a really stupid way to run a country?

        almost as stupid as putting your entire DOD IT infrastructure into AWS?

        Given that AWS IS a US company owned by a US citizen, not so much, also because Bezos is not stupid and would be sure to have segmented a chunk of their cloud to contain the risk.

        In addition, you might want to read the reports on C1, that had ZERO to do with AWS although it benefits many parties to pretend it did. That breach came via a C1 firewall.

        I have actually done what they're trying to do here, and they had it right.

        Until Trump got involved.

    2. rcxb Bronze badge

      Re: Let me get this straight

      In most every administration, when a big government contract comes along, somehow the rules always seem to change in mid-stream to the benefit of companies that contributed more to the winning president's campaign fund.

  3. Andy Mac

    I hate it when you want everyone to lose.

    1. Psmo Bronze badge
      Mushroom

      I don't mind.

      Just sit back, grab the popcorn and watch things explode.

      And occasionally throw unpopped kernels at the conversation.

      (Where's my "Where's the popcorn?" icon, el-Reg?)

  4. IGotOut

    I believe...

    Alibaba are a pretty big cloud provider now, maybe they should bid for it.

    1. Dedobot

      Re: I believe...

      ... and Yandex for subcontractor :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I believe...

      I think there FedRAMP vendor approval might be moving even slower than Googles....

  5. Edwin

    here's the thing...

    This review may actually be a really good thing, but Trump's narcissism, favouritism and amateurism means that I will forever suspect his motives on anything.

    So if this review is a good thing, I'm chalking it up to dumb luck.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: here's the thing...

      So if this review is a good thing, I'm chalking it up to dumb Trump luck.

      FTFY ;)

  6. NeilPost Bronze badge

    In-house

    I still struggle with why you would want to outsource this in the first place ???

    Surely $10bn would buy a lot of internal Military IT tech ability ??

    Does the DOD not already have data centre’s and kit??.. yes some will be legacy.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: In-house

      No way does the DoD have the in-house talent to design and build aircraft, carriers--or a first rate cloud.

      It's not the nature of the beast.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: In-house

        That raises two questions.

        1. Should it have?

        2. What in-house talent does it actually have?

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: In-house

          2. What in-house talent does it actually have?

          In my experience, the US government has a large number of people whose only job is to understand what their contractors are up to and to keep said contractors in line. While the results are something of a mixed bag, on the whole, the government folks do a better job than one might expect. The contractors ... well, IMHO that's a different story. There are reasons that those companies are known collectively as "Beltway Bandits".

          Other than that, in three decades of Military Industrial Complex work, I only encountered a few hands on technical people who actually did stuff much beyond the "follow the manuals" level. The ones I encountered were very good, but they were an exception.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In-house

          The original questions came from a lack of understanding:

          - the majority of the DoD DC environment is already outsourced. "should it be outsourced" was decided (as opposed to answered...) in the 1990's.

          - the assumption is that there is $10bn to spend when the actual number is likely to be JEDI will save $10-$20bn over 10 years and does the DoD have an alternative plan to achieve these savings?

          - does the DoD have existing data centres? Yes....far to many to adequately secure given the challenges of legacy systems, disparate locations and quantity. The goal is one DC per state plus "project specific requirements" plus major gov cloud vendors - this is down from 300+ DC's from 57 vendors and attempting to reduce IT spend on these DC's has been on-going for 15 years with little real success due to vendors being unwilling to alter how they do business with the government. Which is why we have seen legal and now political attempts at altering the outcome.

    2. Reg Reader 1

      Re: In-house

      I agree. To those above my post who say they don't have the talent, well such is the changing nature of the world and the military needs to adapt. I'd suggest that militaries worldwide need to change their IT recruiting requirements and pay grades. This work should not be outsourced. Same for any company that has high value information.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: In-house

        It's basically the same for the US military, as with other militaries around the world. They stick to the job of killing people, and they things like, making guns, building aircraft carriers, or in this case, providing servers, are contracted out to private companies.

        You wouldn't expect the RAF to build their own jets, or the army to run an ammunition factory would you?

        (Mind you, these days the UK's entire aerial refuelling fleet is run by a private company which also leases out the exact same aircraft to civilian charter airlines).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: In-house

          In the past the crown has been responsible for providing at least some its own armaments. As in the Royal Arsenal* and the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham.

          That's only provisioning arms before a conflict that's now been handed over. When operational matters are outsourced there are additional risks. The refuelling fleet is only one aspect. F35 servicing is another. When day-to-day operational capacity is in the hands of private companies, not necessarily companies controlled by boards within the country, the ability of the militaries to get on with their job, as you put it, of killing people can be brought to a halt without their command structure or governments being able to do a thing about it.

          * A late friend of mine was responsible for typesetting a book on that. He said they had a lot of trouble with the hyphenation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In-house

      "I still struggle with why you would want to outsource this in the first place ???"

      Scale primarily. The number of data centers the DoD admit to is 337 (in 2016) but maybe significantly higher (estimates are over 3000 but I suspect that may include very small facilities across all services).

      "Surely $10bn would buy a lot of internal Military IT tech ability ??"

      This is about controlling and ideally reducing existing costs, not increasing spending. It's $1bn/year for 10 years - the DoD spends ~$18bn/year on IT at present and covers a very diverse range of applications. JEDI is about providing a standardized environment that is securely managed, with connectivity tightly controlled and relevant security/lifecycle/cost policies applied. Consolidating distributed legacy systems into larger, secure facilities and providing better visibility of systems will allow older facilities to be shut down while increasing security.

      "Does the DOD not already have data center's and kit??.. yes some will be legacy."

      Yes, a lot. And consolidating the existing 337 DoD data centers down to a few large providers, specialtist facilities (i.e. supporting the F35) and one state data centre per state is the intention, so maybe 100 DC's all up. As mentioned above, the number of actual computer facilities is likely to be significantly higher as they fall outside the DoD's scope.

      A key point about JEDI is that it came from a cost control exercise that started when the DoD was spending $10bn/year on IT - they now spend around $18bn/yr and it is growing rapidly. Many existing vendors have been less than supportive of the DoD's attempts to cut costs, particularly those with expensive legacy facilities that have little commercial value in the current data centre market place.

  7. Jemma Silver badge

    Pic...

    What on Tatooine did the girl just do to him?

    A Cracken Twist on his little lightsabre?

    It's probably good that Loreena Bobbit isn't a Jedi.. Think of the possibilities. Jedidildonics, a whole new industry.

    The last time I saw someone with that look on their face was Transamerica (spoilers: don't bother) when the lead character finds out she's got a teenage son.

    As for the Caped Cretin I doubt he could spell altruism let alone understand the concept but I still can't get my head around WHY on Earth, Yavin or Nar Shaddaa, you would want anything related to a military high command anywhere near "the cloud" unless it's a cumulonimbus sitting overhead minding it's own business. The stupidity is almost legendary and I entirely fail to see any benefits whatsoever?

    It makes absolutely no sense to me. I can't even see the Einstein of salesdrones coming up with a scenario where this could possibly be a benefit and managing to keep a straight face.. This is the same level of horrific as finding out Lee Evans is the Second Coming. There is no possible upside (unless you are China but even then there really isn't because the techs responsible for nicking the data will laugh themselves to death before they get any useful work done).

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Agreed all the way

      As to "WHY on Earth, Yavin or Nar Shaddaa, you would want anything related to a military high command anywhere near "the cloud"", the answer is that our society has been lobotomized and anything resembling reason or common sense has been sucked into the blue screens we have grafted to our hands.

      I blame FaceBook.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agreed all the way

        <quote> I blame FaceBook. </quote>

        I don't. Facebook don't hold the exclusive hold on promoting "cloud" as the answer to everything. But good luck making the obliviots in the "real world" understand that if something is linked to the Internet anywhere, it *can* be compromised with enough time and effort. And, given the value of something like the entire IT infrastructure of the DoD, it's a pretty safe bet there will be plenty of people feeling motivated enough to try long and hard enough.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Defense Secretary Dr Mark Esper

    Okay, given Trump's hiring record, what is this piece of scum guilty of ?

  9. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Mushroom

    " to remain the most lethal force in the world,"

    And this people sums up America beautifully. The only thing they think the military is for is killing people. No humanitarian aid. No ceremonial duties. No peacekeeping. No other things the military elsewhere does as par of its day job.

    Kill. Kill. Kill.

    1. Jaybus

      Please see https://www.army.mil/humanitarian/ and https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/s/sampling-of-us-naval-humanitarian-operations.html.

      I believe you must be referring to the US Marine Corp.

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Other duties as assigned.

      Humanitarian aid: see numerous provisions thereof. Ceremonial duties: visit Arlington, see the guards at the tomb of the unknowns or a USMC sunset tattoo. Peacekeeping: done a bunch.

      Having said that, being a lethal force is really what one has a military for, isn't it?

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Other duties as assigned.

        Peacekeeping - *caused* a bunch, there fixed it for you.

    3. ocflyfish

      "And this people sums up America beautifully. The only thing they think the military is for is killing people. No humanitarian aid. No ceremonial duties. No peacekeeping. No other things the military elsewhere does as par of its day job.

      Kill. Kill. Kill."

      Yes, that is the point of a military. They train, and are equipped for that very purpose.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "by offering jobs to Pentagon staffers"

    Just like the revolving doors with Boeing? And only the fact Boeing - even after swallowing McDonnell - is utterly incapable to design anything smaller than a 737 (and even there bad problem arose) is keeping it away from becoming the DoD sole supplier.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Red

    Fitting that it is a red company that has swayed the presidential opinion. Not that those opinions are particularly stable at any time.

  12. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "Secretary Esper is committed to ensuring our warfighters have the best capabilities, including Artificial Intelligence, to remain the most lethal force in the world, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars," the DoD said in its statement

    Ahh, good old BBB.

  13. Gaius

    Amusingly Oracle pitch it as an advantage that you can buy at entire stack from them, from that hardware (inherited from Sun) all the way up to the apps, via OS and database. “One throat to choke” if anything goes wrong, their salesmen would say.

    Now they are upset that someone is taking that advice and going for a single supplier... just not them!

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Being involved with Oracle in any way feels like your throat is being choked continuously whilst money is taken from your pocket.

      Oh wait, that sounds like being mugged!

  14. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Oracle?

    I suspect that House of Orange has it in for Bezos because of The Washington Post.

  15. Kev99

    Single vendor? Cloud based? Good night nurse. Why don't the idiots in the Pentagon just send out invitations to the US' adversaries to come look at the info? Having a single point of contact makes sense, one point to get instructions and reports and to oversee all the subs. You know, how building and highway construction is done. One general contractor and numerous subs who specialize in plumbing, electric. HVAC, concrete, et cetera. Sheesh. What a bunch of maroons.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So US DoD ought to be run from Oracle Cloud instead ???

    LOL. China would love it :-)

  17. T283ta

    So...

    Bezos will be able to shutdown all DoD operations? Great idea...

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