Despite continued concerns the Department of Defense (DoD) is expected to award its potential 10-year, $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract next month. While it will be awarded to either Microsoft or Amazon, the latter remains the front runner with speculation in the tech company that its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing service has the inside edge.
This follows last Friday’s ruling by Judge Eric Bruggink of the United States Court of Federal Claims, who dismissed Oracle’s lawsuit, which claimed that there was a potential conflict of interest on the part of a procurement team member. Bruggink ruled that Oracle had failed to prove that such a conflict existed in the procurement process – something that was already in line with the DoD’s own internal audits.
The ruling opened the door for the announcement of the winner of the $10 billion contract – with Microsoft and Amazon being the two finalists in a winner-take-all bid that would see the largest reorganization of DoD computer systems. Two other companies, Oracle and IBM, were competing for the contract but were eliminated early on in the selection process.
Following Bruggink’s ruling, there remains no path for Oracle to present a further challenge to the award.
The Pentagon, which issued the final requirements the contract in July 2018, has argued for a single cloud vendor to build out the DoD’s enterprise cloud, emphasizing how a single award cold improve security, improve data accessibility and even simplify the DoD’s ability to adopt and utilize cloud services. The DoD has said that a cloud-based system will enable warfighters to rapidly scale data-driven decision-making.
However, the White House apparently remains concerned – not about the cloud – but the procurement process involved. The President raised questions about the contract with at least two senators according to online reports.
“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and Amazon,” President Trump told reporters today. “They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid, this is going on for a long time, I guess probably before this administration. And we’re looking at it very seriously, it’s a very big contract, one of the biggest ever given.”
Single sourcing the award has been controversial among contractors and information technology companies since the RFP was released in early 2018. Under the award, a commercial cloud vendor will oversee the migration of sensitive DoD data to the cloud.
All But Amazon’s
The initial contract process for the DoD’s cloud began under President Barack Obama’s watch, but it was only officially open for bids last August.
Since practically the beginning of the selection process Amazon has been the front runner, in part because many tech experts agree that it is the only company that can meet all the requirements of the contract.
AWS also has an advantage as it introduced its “Secret Region” cloud platform for the intelligence community (IC), and is able to house software and data with a Secret classification. According to Amazon, the Secret Region was designed and built to meet the specific security requirements, including regulatory and compliance, of secret classified workloads for the DoD and IC. It was first announced in November 2017. The DoD has reportedly already moved some classified data and applications to the service.
Whether Amazon or Microsoft wins the final award, that company will face a hectic late summer and fall. The DoD specified that the contract recipient has to be able to host the classified data within 180 days of receiving the contract award – while Secret and Top Secret data will have 270 days.