Possible Trump role raises concerns about Pentagon's JEDI contract

Joanna Estrada
March 27, 2020

At first, the Big 'Soft, IBM, Oracle, Google, and Amazon were all in the running for the $10B contract, which is not only the biggest internet technology contract in military history but also a foot in the door for the billions of dollars in federal spending on cloud computing expected over the next few years.

Even Microsoft was somewhat caught off-guard by the DoD announcement.

President Trump, who has always been critical of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and of Bezos-owned The Washington Post, openly 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. The company will also be involved in bids for a second large Defense contract that involves cloud-based email and collaboration software. As regular readers may recall, about a year into Trump's presidency, Axios spoke to five sources close to the White House who said the Republican is eager to "go after" Amazon.com and its CEO, Jeff Bezos.

"AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion", Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, said.

Microsoft versus Amazon Web Services (AWS).

"We remain deeply committed to continuing to innovate for the new digital battlefield where security, efficiency, resiliency, and scalability of resources can be the difference between success and failure", the company spokesperson added.

The contract: The intention is to update the Defense Department's technology stack, replacing its complex, decades-old computer networks with one single cloud computing system. Based on both companies' earnings reports last week, Synergy Research Group expects Amazon to boost its share of the market to about 33.5% and Microsoft to rise to around 16.5%. The company will now work with the Pentagon to deliver secure cloud services for no less than ten years. A new book says Trump called James Mattis, defense secretary at the time, in 2018 and told him to "screw Amazon" on the bidding. Mattis didn't do what Trump asked, Snodgrass wrote.

In a statement released later Friday night, the Defense Department said that "the acquisition process was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations". Mattis declined to do that, according to the book. Nearly from the beginning, AWS was hit with complaints that it was improperly influencing the Pentagon's decision making process in an effort to get its thumb on the scale.

Through JEDI, the Pentagon is aiming to unify cloud services and connect data sharing between multiple branches of the military. "We brought our best efforts to the rigorous JEDI evaluation process and appreciate that DoD has chosen Microsoft...we are proud that we are an integral partner in DoD's overall mission cloud strategy". Microsoft's stock rose by 3% on Friday evening as a result.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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