Competition for the Pentagon’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract came to a screeching halt last week because President Donald Trump has complained the process may have unfairly favored Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Public cloud providers have been vying for the Pentagon’s huge cloud contract for more than year. In April, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that AWS and Microsoft Azure were in the final running.
But now, the new Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he will re-examine the finalists. Esper took his post on July 23.
"Secretary Esper is committed to ensuring our warfighters have the best capabilities, including artificial intelligence, to remain the most lethal force in the world, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars," Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson, said in a statement to Politico on Thursday.
The company that is eventually awarded the contract will provide all the cloud computing for Department of Defense (DoD) data including personal statistics and intelligence information. Currently, the U.S. military uses more than 500 discrete clouds for sensitive information.
AWS vs Microsoft
Trump has been butting heads with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which Trump has called a “lobbyist newspaper.”
Of the JEDI process, Trump said in July, “I never had something where more people are complaining,” according to a story by CNBC. “We’re getting tremendous complaints from other companies. Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it."
Re-examination of the the contract might be good news for Oracle Corporation. Oracle and IBM were both in the running during the original request for proposal. Since being eliminated from the running, Oracle has been pushing for the Pentagon to adopt a multi-cloud strategy. According to CNN, Oracle has been lobbying aggressively to turn Trump away from Amazon. In a presentation at the White House, Oracle lobbyists argued that the Department of Defense was unfairly in favor of Amazon.
A Pentagon spokesperson replied to this allegation, announcing last week that it considered Oracle’s push “the subject of poorly-informed and often manipulative speculation.” But it was enough to get Trump to step in to the process typically handled inside the DoD.
The JEDI contract was originally intended to be awarded in September 2018. A new award deadline of August 2019 is now also in question.