Amazon on Wednesday filed a motion that seeks to pause Microsoft's work on the Pentagon's $10 billion cloud contract until a court rules on its protest of how it was awarded.
After a protracted process that included several lawsuits, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) picked Microsoft over Amazon on Oct. 25, 2019 for the 10-year Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract.
According to published reports, Amazon tipped off its hand last week that it would file a temporary restraining order to require Microsoft to hold of its contract work beyond its initial activities.
Amazon, which had been viewed as the front-runner for the contract, filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in November that said it planned to contest the Pentagon's decision to give Microsoft the cloud-computing contract. When the decision was first announced, Amazon said in a statement that it was "the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion."
“It is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending and it’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed,” a spokesperson for AWS wrote in a Wednesday statement to CNBC. “AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible."
The JEDI cloud contract was a hotly contested and acrimonious process among Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. The JEDI contract was supposed to be awarded in September of 2018, but some of the competing companies contended that Amazon had an unfair advantage. The process was slowed after several investigations and legal battles.
It's well known that President Donald Trump dislikes Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. Trump interjected himself into contract process in July when he said to reporters that he "never had something where more people are complaining,” according to a story by CNBC. Trump cited complaints by Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. IBM and Oracle were previously eliminated from the contract process, which they both protested, but lost, in court.
Aside from being the cloud market leader, AWS was also considered the front-runner because it had built cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency prior to Trump's reported interest in the contract.
After becoming Secretary of Defense in July, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper started reviewing the JEDI contract in August. Citing his son's work at IBM, Esper removed himself from the review of the Pentagon's JEDI cloud-computing contract in October prior to it being awarded.
After Microsoft was announced as the winner, Esper and the Pentagon defended the decision to award the contract to Microsoft In December, Microsoft President said on CNBC that work on JEDI continues despite Amazon’s protest.