Pentagon May Dump $10 Billion JEDI Program Over Microsoft, Amazon Fight

The federal government is so tired of the lawsuit battle between Microsoft and Amazon over the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI), it’s telling the court it may just kill the project rather than continue to litigate the matter.

The original JEDI program was supposed to provide the government with a cloud computing platform that would sit atop all other cloud deployments at the DoD and provide a general-purpose cloud environment. Smaller, specific clouds — what the government called “fit for purpose” clouds — were only to be utilized on an as-needed basis.

The original JEDI plan. Apologies for potato.

The original JEDI contract was expected to go to Amazon until Oracle injected itself into the process, alleging improprieties. Former President Trump ordered a review of the project. Several months later, in October 2019, the government announced Microsoft, not Amazon, had won the project. Amazon promptly sued, alleging improper interference on the part of the government, based on President Trump’s longstanding and oft-expressed dislike for Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. Between Oracle and Amazon, the deployment of the JEDI system has been delayed for at least a year.

At this point, the government is ready to wash its hands of the entire affair. JEDI was supposed to be online over a year ago, and the government has had success deploying other cloud systems for smaller purposes in the interim, raising the question of whether JEDI is needed at all.

“If the court denies the government’s motion we will most likely be facing an even longer litigation process,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “The DOD Chief Information Officer will reassess the strategy going forward.”

The DoD has pivoted from insisting on the supreme importance of JEDI to talking up the other 13 cloud projects it has in play with various firms. While these were supposed to be organized under the JEDI general cloud, it may be that a different structure will address the same needs as effectively.

From the DoD’s perspective, dropping the project is probably the smartest move. JEDI can’t come online until the litigation is settled. That could take 2-4 years given how slowly the courts can move; Oracle and Google have been tangled in a lawsuit over whether APIs can be copyrighted for over a decade. The entire point of the JEDI project was to speed the deployment of cloud services across the DoD. Spending the next few years in court fighting for the right to deploy the program is exactly the opposite of how it was supposed to work in the first place.

Feature image by Touch of Light, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

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