DOD’s Forecast Post-JEDI: Multi-Cloud with a Chance of Peril

Just_Super/iStock.com

The Defense Department's needs are diverse and have become even more disparate amidst the post-SolarWinds landscape.

The Pentagon’s abandonment of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract was an anticlimactic demise for the once visionary single-cloud network.

As far back as 2019, the Defense Department acknowledged that 10% of its cloud would stay with Amazon Web Services and Google; but on paper JEDI’s benefits were clear. It would have been a streamlined, unified approach for DOD’s unclassified and classified networks. Teams would only have to understand and master one solution. And the reduced complexity of a single cloud would theoretically minimize the accessibility of DOD’s network vulnerabilities.

However, the protracted legal battle pushed JEDI past viability. While the cloud titans fought for their slice of the pie, other actors within the federal government, most significantly the intelligence community, transitioned to a multi-cloud network. As a result, the decision to retire JEDI is best seen as an inevitable step toward DOD’s multi-vendor destiny.

In fact, it will now pursue a diametrically different solution through the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, called JWCC, a multi-vendor indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. Now, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other cloud vendors may each get a piece and provide their clouds for one of the most complex and sensitive networks on earth. 

During the two-year delay, the premise of single cloud networks faced its own battles. It was common for senior management from both public and private sectors to erroneously view a single cloud as infallible. In reality, this was repeatedly disproven. Vulnerabilities found in on-premise networks were replicated or dragged onto the cloud. Meanwhile, these overtaxed cyber and network teams aren’t failsafe themselves; to deploy at scale, cloud administrators do everything from the command line to the scripting, and 99% of cloud security failures over the next five years will be caused by human error, according to Gartner in 2017. These weaknesses are amplified by recent devastating ransomware incidents, which have eroded perceptions of federal security inside the beltway. So, while multiple clouds do add to the complexity of a network, a single cloud was never a silver bullet.

The Pentagon’s multi-cloud future offers both promise and peril. DOD’s needs are diverse and have become even more disparate amidst the post-SolarWinds landscape we find ourselves in. Some vendors are demonstrably better at some things than others: often developers prefer Azure, whereas many give Google Cloud the gold from an artificial intelligence perspective. By utilizing the best parts of each vendor, DOD teams can tailor their own cloud best suited for both their classified and unclassified networks. But an experienced Amazon Web Services architect is unlikely to possess the same understanding of Microsoft Azure, and vice versa. And while Amazon Web Services and Google’s virtual private clouds may share the same nomenclature, their configurations are poles apart. Those extremely rare architects who are cloud solution polyglots are likely employed in the private sector with salaries higher than what the federal government could offer. 

And complexity remains the eternal enemy of security. By combining different vendors and teams of engineers, the Pentagon has opened a Pandora's box. Its cyber defenders must be essentially multi-lingual to work seamlessly within and between different cloud networks. And because a ‘lingua franca’ between vendors is impossible for now, it’s even harder to find engineers with some level of fluency in each to fully understand their network environments. Cyber teams are rarely experts on all aspects of every cloud network, regardless of what leadership may assume.

While the cloud titans had both the time and the money to scrap it out over JEDI ad infinitum, our nation’s national security had neither. Abandoning the contract was both a necessity and an inevitability. The Pentagon’s multi-cloud future must now draw on the best of every solution in the market without compromising on security.

Wayne Lloyd is chief technology officer  of Federal at RedSeal.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.