After spending years battling over the Defense Department’s $10 billion JEDI cloud services contract, Microsoft and Amazon are fighting over another government deal. Now it’s the National Security Agency offering a contract that could pay up to $10 billion as it shifts away from on-premises servers to a commercial provider. However, as Washington Technology reported first, this time around, Amazon Web Services won the $10 billion contest, and it’s Microsoft’s turn to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office.
Washington Technology reports that Microsoft’s claim is the NSA didn’t conduct a proper evaluation while considering a provider for its new project, code-named WildandStormy. In a statement to NextGov, an NSA spokesperson confirmed the award and protests, saying, “The Agency will respond to the protest in accordance with appropriate federal regulations.”
The NSA is pursuing a “Hybrid Compute Initiative” to meet its processing and analytical requirements while also holding onto intelligence data (although it might not need as much storage as it used to). AWS already holds many government cloud contracts, but the JEDI process revealed Microsoft as a formidable competitor. Last year the CIA split up its Commercial Cloud Enterprise contract between five companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle, and IBM. Last year, a Microsoft blog post said it was pursuing US government accreditation for its Azure Government Top Secret regions to “meet the demand for greater agility in the classified space.”
When Amazon was pushing for a review of the JEDI contract process, it cited “errors and unmistakable bias,” as former president Donald Trump reportedly stepped in, bringing his animosity toward then-CEO Jeff Bezos. Eventually, the DoD decided the program’s design no longer met its needs and scrapped the entire plan to pursue a multi-vendor solution called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. Will WildandStormy meet a similar fate? A step toward an answer will come within the next couple of months, as the GAO’s decision is due by October 29th.