JEDI Tantrums

Denis Pombriant
4 min readFeb 28, 2020

In JEDI, it seems like the Pentagon is trying to foist a hierarchical command and control structure onto an inherently networked industry. This. Cannot. Work.

The Pentagon is trying to upgrade its IT to cloud computing and is so far making a hash of it.

Someday soon, JEDI could enter the lexicon as something other than a Star Wars moniker for the good guys. If the tech industry and the media have their way it might become known first as a government procurement project mired in petty squabbling and endless lawsuits among the contestants. It could also become known as the wrong turn that tech took and never recovered from. If tech isn’t your domain, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI, is a $10 billion cloud computing procurement project initiated by the Pentagon to upgrade its information handling capabilities.

With ten big ones up for grabs, it’s not surprising that any company than could spell cloud submitted a bid including Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. But the process’ central theme of a winner take all selection process has left everyone refusing to take someone else’s “yes” as an answer.

On paper all of the majors have something significant to offer. Amazon is the largest cloud provider at the moment followed by the others who might arguably have better technologies. Oracle for instance has an advanced database technology that manages itself and self-corrects patching vulnerabilities as they are exposed without the need to take a system down. IBM has the muscle to support a big, hairy, complex, multi-year project like this one. And Microsoft has oodles of good, relevant technology as well.

So far it looks like the Pentagon picked Microsoft but Amazon, which was once in the catbird seat, is now contesting the award. On Thursday a federal judge ordered a temporary halt to the project in order to hear claims that Amazon was unfairly excluded from the award because of animus between Donald Trump and CEO and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post, a national newspaper that has taken Trump to task for his many outright transgressions while in office. He’s also the richest person in the world having founded Amazon.com.

Ordinarily, I might root for Amazon in this case because the enemy of my enemy must be my friend right? I honestly wouldn’t care if any other vendor got the award too except for one important point.

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Denis Pombriant

Researcher, author of multiple books including “The Age of Sustainability” about solutions for climate change. Technology, business, economics.