Technology

Pentagon ‘reaffirms’ Microsoft as winner of $10B JEDI cloud contract; Amazon appeal still pending

President Donald Trump visits U.S. troops at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in November 2019. Amazon alleges that Trump’s animus toward the company improperly influenced the Pentagon’s award of a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft, but the Department of Defense today reaffirmed the decision. (Official White House Photograph by Shealah Craighead)

The U.S. Department of Defense stood by its decision to award a coveted $10 billion cloud computing project to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s objections and past speculation that the Pentagon could opt to split the deal in the face of a court challenge from the Seattle tech giant.

“The Department has completed its comprehensive re-evaluation of the JEDI Cloud proposals and determined that Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the Government,” the DoD said in a statement Friday. It added, “While contract performance will not begin immediately due to the Preliminary Injunction Order issued by the Court of Federal Claims on February 13, 2020, DoD is eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform.”

Amazon Web Services, the longtime leader in public cloud computing, sued the federal government after Microsoft emerged as the surprise winner of the JEDI contract last year. Among other claims, the company alleges that President Donald Trump’s personal animus toward Amazon improperly influenced the outcome.

Beyond the financial value, the Pentagon’s selection of Microsoft Azure was an endorsement of its technical capabilities, at a time when many companies are shifting to the cloud. In an interview with GeekWire last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the JEDI contract award reflected the company’s work in areas including hybrid computing, combining elements of the cloud and on-premises servers.

Microsoft issued this statement on the Pentagon’s announcement: “We appreciate that after careful review, the DoD confirmed that we offered the right technology and the best value. We’re ready to get to work and make sure that those who serve our country have access to this much needed technology.”

However, Amazon has also been beefing up its hybrid cloud capabilities. Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy said last year that he believed there was “significant political interference” in the U.S. government’s decision. Amazon’s formal appeal cited evidence including President Trump’s comments to supporters and reporters, as well as a Fox News segment that urged Trump to keep the Pentagon from awarding the deal to Amazon.

Trump has frequently been at odds with Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos over issues including the U.S. Postal Service and the tech giant’s market power.

GeekWire has contacted Amazon for comment on the Pentagon’s latest statement.

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