Many in the industry are watching the delays in the multi-billion-dollar JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) Cloud Computing initiative with a huge degree of interest because the reverberations of the deal could change the perception of cloud worldwide for good.
JEDI is a $10 billion, ten-year contract to bring 500 cloud initiatives across the US defence industry under a single contract and vendor – and it is widely presumed that the single vendor will be Amazon Web Services (AWS), the leader in cloud computing.
It’s the single vendor part which is causing huge controversy. On one hand, the US Department of Defense is arguing that a single vendor contract will enable it to rapidly deliver new capabilities and increased efficiency that enterprise-level cloud computing can enable.
On the other hand, according to Bloomberg’s Naomi Nix, you have at least nine large tech companies, including; Oracle, SAP America, General Dynamics‘ CSRA unit, Red Hat, VMware, Microsoft, IBM, Dell Technologies, and Hewlett Packard banding together to try to force the contract to be split up.
So why should we care?
Firstly, the last couple of years have seen other vendors starting to make major inroads into the AWS market position, with Microsoft and Google increasing their market share significantly. If AWS secures the JEDI contract it will allow them to leap ahead, but more importantly, it will give them the perfect retort to security concerns.
Gartner reported this year that IT security and risk management leaders remain concerned about the relative security of public cloud providers. AWS will be able to demonstrate that cloud, and particularly the AWS cloud, is “trusted by the US military” – a weighty and credible reassurance which is likely to reduce security concerns and advance the migration to public cloud by more large conservative and regulated industries.
Secondly, the concerns about making a mistake in cloud have been well advertised. Examples of large organisations going through cloud repatriation or single vendor regret have long provided evidence to support those who may want to block moves to cloud. This type of deal, if successful, is likely to allay many of the concerns about such choices and advance cloud migration at an even greater pace.
Equally, if fraught with problems, it will only add fuel to all the cloud naysayers and change the current ever-increasing migration to public cloud.
The Impact on UK Providers
Finally, this could impact the strategy of many cloud providers in the UK. At Brightsolid, we are big fans of AWS and are excited by what they are doing, and we are actively supporting clients who want to benefit from their solutions.
Alternatively, many of us are advocating a hybrid or multi-cloud approach as the best way to offer our clients flexibility and choice. Rackspace, for example, suggests “The cloud is for everyone, but not necessarily for everything”.
If the DoD progresses with a single vendor arrangement, it will be under the spotlight to migrate as much as they can to AWS. If it uses one vendor for everything and successfully migrates all types of workloads, then many in the industry might start to rethink whether a one vendor strategy is simpler. The current thinking that you must choose where to place workloads may change entirely.
The timeline for tender of the contract has been pushed back in the midst of the controversy and a new timeline has yet to be published. It could be several months before we see any further progress and long before a decision is made.
Either way, it will undoubtedly have an impact on the rest of the cloud computing world and we wait with anticipation to learn from it.