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Amazon Loses JEDI: Now What?

Friday (October 25, 2019) Amazon and the Bezos bulldozer drove into a granite erratic. The Department of Defense awarded the multi-year, multi-billion dollar contract for cloud services to Microsoft. “Microsoft Snags Hotly Contested $10 Billion Defense Contract, Beating Out Amazon” reported the collision between PowerPoint’s owner and the killing machine which has devastated retail.

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CNBC reports:

If the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure deal, known by the acronym JEDI, ends up being worth $10 billion, it would likely be a bigger deal to Microsoft than it would have been to Amazon. Microsoft does not disclose Azure revenue in dollar figures but it’s widely believed to have a smaller share of the market than Amazon, which received $9 billion in revenue from AWS in the third quarter.

The write up pointed out:

While Trump didn’t cite Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by name at the time, the billionaire executive has been a constant source of frustration for the president. Bezos owns The Washington Post, which Trump regularly criticizes for its coverage of his administration. Trump also has gone after Amazon repeatedly on other fronts, such as claiming it does not pay its fair share of taxes and rips off the U.S. Post Office.

There are other twists and turns to the JEDI story, but I will leave it to you, gentle reader, to determine if the Oracle anti-Amazon campaign played a role.

There are some questions which I discussed with my DarkCyber team when we heard the news as a rather uneventful week in the technology world wound down. Let’s look at four of these and the “answers” my team floated as possibilities.

Question 1: Will this defeat alter Amazon’s strategy for policeware and intelware business?

Answer 1: No. Since 2007, Amazon has been grinding forward in the manner of the Bezos bulldozer with its flywheel spinning and its electricity sparking. As big as $10 billion is, Amazon has invested significant time and resources in policeware and intelware inventions like DeepLens, software like SageMaker, and infrastructure designed to deliver information that many US government agencies will want and for which many of the more than 60 badge-and-gun entities in the US government will pay. The existing sales team may be juggled as former Microsoft government sales professional Teresa Carlson wrestles with the question, “What next?” Failure turns on a bright spotlight. The DoD is just one, albeit deep pocket entity, of many US government agencies needing cloud services. And there is always next year which begins October 1, 2020.

Question 2: Has Amazon tuned its cloud services and functions to the needs of the Department of Defense?

Answer 2: No. Amazon offers services which meet the needs of numerous government agencies at the federal as well as local jurisdictional levels. In fact, there is one US government agency deals with more money than the DoD that is a potential ATM for Amazon. The Bezos bulldozer drivers may be uniquely positioned to deliver cloud services and investigative tools with the potential payout to Amazon larger than the JEDI deal.

Read more »

Interviews

Exclusive: DataWalk Explained by Chris Westphal

An Interview with Chris Westphal” provides an in-depth review of a company now disrupting the analytic and investigative software landscape.

DataWalk is a company shaped by a patented method for making sense of different types of data. The technique is novel and makes it possible for analysts to extract high value insights from large flows of data in near real time with an unprecedented ease of use.

DarkCyber interviewed in late June 2019 Chris Westphal, the innovator who co-founded Visual Analytics. That company’s combination of analytics methods and visualizations was acquired by Raytheon in 2013. Now Westphal is applying his talents to a new venture DataWalk.

Westphal, who monitors advanced analytics, learned about DataWalk and joined the firm in 2017 as the Chief Analytics Officer. The company has grown rapidly and now has client relationships with corporations, governments, and ministries throughout the world. Applications of the DataWalk technology include investigators focused on fraud, corruption, and serious crimes.

Unlike most investigative and analytics systems, users can obtain actionable outputs by pointing and clicking. The system captures these clicks on a ribbon. The actions on the ribbon can be modified, replayed, and shared.

In an exclusive interview with Mr. Westphal, DarkCyber learned:

The [DataWalk] system gets “smarter” by encoding the analytical workflows used to query the data; it stores the steps, values, and filters to produce results thereby delivering more consistency and reliability while minimizing the training time for new users. These workflows (aka “easy buttons”) represent domain or mission-specific knowledge acquired directly from the client’s operations and derived from their own data; a perfect trifecta!

One of the differentiating features of DataWalk’s platform is that it squarely addresses the shortage of trained analysts and investigators in many organizations. Westphal pointed out:

…The workflow idea is one of the ingredients in the DataWalk secret sauce. Not only do these workflows capture the domain expertise of the users and offer management insights and metrics into their operations such as utilization, performance, and throughput, they also form the basis for scoring any entity in the system. DataWalk allows users to create risk scores for any combination of workflows, each with a user-defined weight, to produce an overall, aggregated score for every entity. Want to find the most suspicious person? Easy, just select the person with the highest risk-score and review which workflows were activated. Simple. Adaptable. Efficient.

Another problem some investigative and analytic system developers face is user criticism. According to Westphal, DataWalk takes a different approach:

We listen carefully to our end-user community. We actively solicit their feedback and we prioritize their inputs. We try to solve problems versus selling licenses… DataWalk is focused on interfacing to a wide range of data providers and other technology companies. We want to create a seamless user experience that maximizes the utility of the system in the context of our client’s operational environments.

For more information about DataWalk, navigate to www.datawalk.com. For the full text of the interview, click this link. You can view a short video summary of DataWalk in the July 2, 2019, DarkCyber Video available on Vimeo.

Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2019

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