Having to compete for each task order is thought to reduce costs to the government. Of course having to compete each task brings its own additional costs which don't necessarily make the cost saving proposition true. The big benefit I see to this contract is that it helps prevent vendor lock-in. I don't worry about the next 10 years and $10B, but what happens after 10 years when the DoD is now locked in to proprietary AWS cloud features which make migrating to a different vendor technically and fiscally near impossible.
Lock in is the only concern, but from my experience doing an IDIQ or multi-vendor won't solve the lock in problem. The best thing to solve that is to make sure your using bland normal things not customer government thigs.
Now, think of the political climate: there’ve been decades trying to “trim waste” by steering money to the private sector, where efficiency is taken as a matter of faith. First you’d need to hire the technical leadership to properly plan something like that and then hire all of the people who’d build it, not to mention procuring all of the hardware & data centers, etc. You’re looking at years before you have a positive return on any of that – and all the while, every big contractor is going to have their lobbyists talking about how it’s a waste of money compared to going with them.
NASA tried this a decade ago with Nebula, which was part of the early OpenStack history. I don’t know exactly what happened with that but the people I know working on NASA projects are all using AWS.
Inability to pay high enough salaries for anyone to maintain it properly AND move it forward with new tech.
The history of IDIQ processes is likely a large part of the reason people were anxious to do something different in this instance. Now that it's all politics, it'll probably cost more and function less when all is said and done.
Some aspects of the military, I don't really miss.
Winner take all is also important, because it eliminates the room for sales bullshit. The magic is figuring out how to break up the lots of services so that it makes sense. You don’t want to give any one of AWS, Google and Microsoft everything, so you want to design lots that keep it competitive. This also ensures that any one vendor doesn’t subsidize strategic SKUs by discounting something that isn’t meaningful.
Everything fed is more complex, but it’s all doable.
I doubt their actual justification will ever be public, but I suspect their motivation is that they require a common IaaS platform such that they can have a unified toolset and a single, comprehensive approach to infrastructure security.
Keep in mind also that fewer proprietary features at AWS are available when considering standardizing across all classification types. “East/west” and GovCloud don’t have feature parity.
But having the DOD on AWS along with the IC concerns me from a lack of diversity standpoint. I've always said that Microsoft and Google should have teamed up a bit to make a competitive run. But I don't think anyone was ever interested in sharing the contract to begin with.
It's a big organization and they have a lot of 'customers'
Like it or not, defense spending is a huge boost to the middle class stem job market, and taking it out would have consequences wider ranging than you think. With “white collar welfare” I’d argue the gov gets a better return on its investment than most other options, while arguably making it harder for developing nations to become a threat via brain drain because the stem market is strong here.
And even more who remember where Silicon Valley's initial contracts came from...
I seriously wish Google had bought Sun. Their cultures are so much more compatible, and while the Sun's hardware business didn't really mesh with Google's, it would have saved them some headaches with Oracle, and with the direction custom hardware is headed, might have become a real asset.
Sounds like wishcasting. Oracle is still be raking in money. The death of Oracle has long been a fan favorite on HN, but it's nowhere near being dead and their business model while perhaps antiquated by HN SaaS standards is alive and well and still seems to be working though they're diversifying into a number of new areas to deal with possible long term decline of Oracle DB.
The article states that Microsoft does not yet have the security clearances for JEDI yet, but is working on it, but nowhere in the piece does it mention Google's cloud services. Are they in the running as well? Are there any other giant enterprise cloud platform businesses that I'm unaware of? Dropbox uses AWS.
The other interesting thing about this, circling back to Oracle, is the changing of the technological guard here. One can imagine all sorts of government databases running on IBM mainframes, using Oracle software. But now, the shift to enterprise cloud has arrived. I guess this must be happening across the entire industry.
They very loudly left AWS several years ago, not aware of them going back.
Enterprise clouds are cheaper if you're in the middle and/or quickly changing scale.
Unless you've done it before, of course.
That's possible, but not common.
I dont know what you consider "giant" but there are the various IBM Cloud Offerings
Didn't Google kowtow to employee-activists who didn't want Google to work with the US military?
They dropped out of JEDI because they couldn't meet a bunch of contract provisions in the RFP.
Apart from fail-over/redundancy benefits, it would avoid lock-in and drastically improve negotiating leverage that could force ongoing competitiveness and accountability.
The engineering costs are significant but still a drop in the bucket compared to the size of these mega-contracts.
Put it this way: there's an old aphorism about how owing the bank $1 million is your personal problem, owning the bank $1 billion is your bank's problem, and owing the bank $1 trillion is your country's problem. There would be a parallel for cloud infrastructure: if you have a $1 million cloud bill then you have a (vendor lock-in) problem; if you have a $500 million cloud bill then your vendor has a problem (because you represent a huge chunk of business that can evaporate if you move to on-prem); if you have a $1 billion cloud bill then the wider market would have a problem (because of the reverberating shock effects if your migration to cheaper infrastructure is unsuccessful).
It's the textbook definition of something which is too big to fail.
That's still a massive project though that I presume would only be undertaken in extremely dire circumstances, so Amazon only has to do the bare minimum to make sure things don't reach that point.
I'm thinking more along the lines of switching off the primary cloud to a "follower" cloud in a few clicks. I realize that's not at all easy, but I think it should certainly be possible with these kinds of budgets to build in cloud-agnosticism from the ground up. It's hard but it's not that hard--it's just the facade pattern, which is quite commonly applied in other cases like OSes/databases that are arguably just as complex.
Do you want seamless ability to transfer work to another cloud, or do you want the latest managed services and features? Pick one.
At the same time they are sufficiently differentiated that migration plans would be non-trivial
Disclaimer: former aws employee
DoD is never going to be able to pay what any of the major companies can for top-tier talent.
And there are only so many talented people willing to work below market rate for other reasons.
(Not at all a slight to those engineers doing government work. Salutes to all of you!)
The government is currently structure so that only cutting edge research is a priority, not the more humdrum stuff like day to day operations.
Your objection seems flawed to me in that it ignores the fact that goons can screw up just as badly on AWS as they can in a data centre.
But my point was more that managed services do make it harder to technically foot-gun.
When there are limited options exposed by an abstraction layer, there are limited mistakes an ignorant user can make.
You mean for the design? Yes. For the actual actual day-to-day operational duties, it's servicemen that perform like any other military post.
Apart from fail-over/redundancy benefits, it would avoid lock-in and drastically improve negotiating leverage that could force ongoing competitivenes and accountability.
The effort could be open sourced, which would have industry-wide economic benefits.
IBM and Oracle just are not at the same level but I do suspect they have the best sales teams for government deals.
Is it normal in the private sector for companies to spend $1B/yr on cloud services? I feel like at that price point you're better off building out your own infra for most stuff, and using the cloud only for the remaining $10M - $100M fraction where you really do need dynamic scaling.
I get that there have been incendiary tweets indirectly resulting in private citizens being assholes who have made death threats against the media. Clearly trump is an asshole for doing those things. Have there been any official punishments by the authorities that I'm not aware of?
It is when the highest and supposedly most-respected seat in a country undermines the entire validity of the fourth estate in a time when there's no viable replacement. It's a personal, poisonous and Pyrrhic sort of punishment, but it's punishment nonetheless.
Also, constant harassment and threats and being labelled enemy of the people.
The fact it is being treated as relevant is deeply wrong and corrupt.
And on the other side, the government should be impartial and only look at the financial and technological sides when procuring stuff or enforcing regulations. Trump's opposition to everything Bezos is obviously everything but neutral.
Except the bulk of them aren't even competent journalists. They hardly do any fact-checking or ground-level reporting. They are closer to socialist agitators than journalists. Take the Baltimore rat Tweet situation as a recent example (The "Covington kids" are another good example.) One America News interviewed Baltimore residents  and got a completely different vibe from what the MSM has been pushing. Meanwhile CNN's anchor with his forced fake tears about "Trump's racism" is getting savaged by black YTers 
>>and the way Trump regularly attacks all press
"All press" != "CNN/NYT/WaPo/HuffPo/MSNBC". Has Trump attacked Tim Pool? No, he invited Tim Pool to his White House Social Media event, despite Tim constantly calling Trump a crass person of bad character. Tim Pool gets more daily YT views that CNN gets TV viewers, BTW.
>>>And on the other side, the government should be impartial and only look at the financial and technological sides when procuring stuff or enforcing regulations.
Agreed. Or they should pay technical specialists what they're worth and develop and maintain internal government solutions. For some reason that's a bridge too far for us.
Also, how is having someone high up intervening in a business process a big violation of free market principles? I don't recall the article mentioning this either. As I think about it, this just reeks of crony capitalism. Didn't we just (2008 or so) decide that was a bad way to do an economy?
Isn't the NYT slant generally in favor of laissez faire free markets? Why the switch here?
I just don’t get it, but I guess someone will say government can’t do anything and that’s enough.
Bezos should have stepped in to make certain that the WaPo improve the quality of its journalism even if the easiest path to profits is just to provide entertaining stories to the #resist partisans.
There is plenty to write serious investigative journalism about that will have the consequence of weakening Trump politically (if that is the goal) so there was no need to become a tabloid.
Arguably the WaPo’s reporting on Saudi Arabia led to the grudge match that culminated in outing Bezos’ philandering, and the subsequent major decrease in Bezos’ wealth.
KSA is led by an abhorrent group of royals, but the WaPo’s coverage of the disappearance of khashoggi was tabloidesque and immature.
One of their writers was murdered in a foriegn embassy on foreign soil by the royal family of SA. Tortured and murdered, and dismemembered.
That story deserves quite a bit of attention. I'd also like to hear your recommendation on high quailty journalism since WaPo does not meet your standard.
The Intercept has solid journalism. The New Yorker does also, some of the time.
Journalistic standards have been abandoned by the major news orgs in favor of in group targeted stories that are activism oriented (in the left vs right partisan fray) and not truth seeking.
It has been clear for a long time that the WaPo and NYT are playing partisan politics and are cashing in their previously earned journalistic credibility to do so.
Both papers wasted the first few years of Trump’s presidency with front page stores about his manners and buffoonery, with no serious investigative work until the story about Trump’s inheritance earlier this year.
It’s as if the reporters think their job is to “discover” the blindingly obvious fact that Trump is crass again and again while ignoring the war crimes and bipartisan evil that has been progressing nicely since Trump took office.
You and I live in different realities. There is conclusive evidence as to what happened if you bothered to look. I can only assume you are not speaking in good faith.
Re: the rest of your post, AGAIN if you bother to look, there is quite a bit of investigative journalism of substance regarding Trump's misdeeds. Seriously decades of it. I don't know what to say except to try using Google, the information is out there.
> Bezos should have stepped in to make certain that the WaPo improve the quality of its journalism
The relevance is that this waffling over Oracle and AWS is born of an interview in WaPo? It has nothing to do with Amazon. Especially when you're commenting on the quality of WaPo journalism. The story exists without WaPo, but not without Amazon.
For some reason doing solid investigative journalism is not a priority and instead rallying partisans around talking points and feel good, in-group stories takes precedence.
FWIW I personally loathe Trump and would love to see him removed from power thanks to some solid investigative journalism.
What does more reliability mean when that was expressly not a target to begin with?