The JEDI War Rages On—and Enterprise Businesses Stand to Benefit
January 23, 2020 by Emil Sayegh
The news about Microsoft Azure’s “JEDI” cloud platform win on October 25, 2019 surprised many and outraged others—especially the runner-up, Amazon, who filed a lawsuit contesting the decision one month after it was announced, followed by a motion to stop further work on January 22, 2020.
The ten-year, $10 billion Department of Defense (DoD) project, better known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, seemed fated to land in Amazon’s lap due to the company’s history building cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency and acting as a stalwart technology provider for many government projects. With that in mind, not many gave Azure a fighting chance, even though the Azure ecosystem has recently made significant enterprise gains.
Yet, throughout the selection process and now after the announcement in October, accusations of interference and political overtones plagued the long, public competition. This came to a head on November 14, 2019 when Amazon officially announced it would challenge the decision in court. Publicly released and heavily redacted documents outline Amazon’s protest to the Department of Defense for choosing Microsoft for the Pentagon cloud contract, specifically focusing on US president Donald Trump’s attacks on Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. It is safe to say that the decision is proving to be more polarizing and creating more upheaval than any of us could have anticipated.
While Microsoft may have won the JEDI contract—and despite the intense pressure from Amazon to reevaluate—the underdog win is truly everybody’s win when it comes to more varied and accessible cloud options.
Cloud Technologies Validated
The flexibility, power, and scale of cloud technologies are top priorities for every CIO in corporate America, and the DoD is no different. Fraught with risks and inefficiencies, the military’s legacy information technology systems are ripe for change, and cloud is a viable answer to the issues. Edge computing, rapid development, remote and field-based sensors, global capabilities, autonomous systems and equipment, and artificial intelligence systems are on the list of emerging military projects enabled by cloud.
According to known DoD objectives, 80% of the organization’s compute workloads will find its way to this new cloud, making capacity a critical concern. To that end, various reports of Microsoft’s recent buildout of classified-level datacenters indicate the importance of immediate capacity. Microsoft’s win validates its platform capabilities, and it validates the fact that there are significant options in the market. The DoD’s decision establishes a multi-source advantage for the government as a whole, which in turn, will spin up a wave of enterprise-level features, artificial intelligence breakthroughs, and pricing advantages.
A Race is On
One significant argument against the one-provider nature of JEDI was the perceived threat of single source and vendor lock-in, which describes a situation in which an organization experiences great difficulty moving workloads to other cloud providers. However, selecting Azure actually enables the government as a whole to get real-world experience with another cloud flavor aside from its AWS history, ushering the era of multi-clouds into government. As we’ve seen across the industry in recent years, the threat of lock-in is mitigated by proper vetting, agnostic tooling, well-defined contract terms, and flexible migration tools found on leading cloud products.
With all its capabilities, Azure’s feature set includes the sort of management, performance, and next-gen efficiency that the DoD requires for its digital strategy. Now that we have Azure challenging AWS, the major market wins and competitive features are validated on the largest stage possible and the biggest cloud prize ever.
Although the final outcome for the JEDI contract seems to still be unclear, consumers will surely benefit from the wider range of options the competition brings.
At the Front Lines in the Cloud
Government technology initiatives ushered in some of the most significant advancements in human history. The moon landing, the internet, drones, GPS, life sciences, and a massive list of developmental and revolutionary technologies prove that fact. We are witnessing the nexus of cloud and government, and a more significant enterprise IT challenge than the JEDI project is difficult to find. The needs and goals of this program will accelerate speed-to-market for new features, demand new scale, and cultivate an entire range of imperatives within this digital modernization strategy designed to keep the USA safe from its enemies.
While AWS is a dynamic enterprise platform, this evolution validates Microsoft Azure as a credible player. What it also validates is that this new world is a multi-cloud world and not a monolith, which is an advantage to all. The government is now looking for dual-sourced technologies—a normal progression for all industries. A heated multi-front, multi-cloud competition across the enterprise and emerging government projects will quickly emerge from this Microsoft win.
As this story continues to unfold, it is important to remember that, ultimately, the cloud industry wins, the enterprise wins, and we all win. No matter who ultimately wins the contract, may JEDI contribute to keeping America safe.
Competitive Benefits for All Industries
No matter who wins with JEDI, we all win with these cloud advancements, but understanding how to harness and optimize features from Azure, AWS, and other cloud providers is more complex than what most enterprise IT teams are used to handling. This is where experienced cloud service providers like Ntirety step in to provide guidance and forward-facing insight for the evolving technology landscape.
Coming from a cloud-agnostic perspective, Ntirety takes an application-first approach to help companies determine what platform and features make the most sense to meet their desired business goals while reducing risk and optimizing IT budgets.