Amazon Asks US Court To Bar Microsoft From JEDI Contract

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Restraining order. Amazon AWS to ask judge to impose temporary block on Microsoft working on Pentagon’s JEDI cloud contract

The fallout from the decision by the US Department of Defense to award its lucrative cloud contract to Microsoft Azure continues this week.

A court filing on Monday reportedly showed that Amazon is to ask a US judge to temporarily block Microsoft from working on the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract.

Last month Amazon had officially named US President Donald Trump in its court complaint, and him accused him of exerting “improper pressure” and bias.

Amazon Web Services

JEDI complaints

The trouble began in late October when the Pentagon  officially awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s AWS cloud division being regarded as favourite to win the contract.

Essentially, the Pentagon aims to create a single cloud architecture across all the military branches and combatant commands. The idea is to allow a seamless workflow and information-sharing environment.

Amazon was very unhappy at what it believed was political bias from the US President, and in November 2019 filed a complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting that decision.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy had previously revealed in an interview that he believed the decision was not adjudicated fairly and called for the whole JEDI decision process to be reviewed.

Amazon has essentially argued that politics got in the way of a fair contracting process.

It feels the Pentagon decision was politically motivated by President Donald Trump’s dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

And now in a latest move, Reuters reported that Amazon plans to file a motion for a temporary restraining order on 24 January, and a federal court will issue its decision on 11 February, according to the filing.

The US Department of Defense has stood by its decision to award the contract to Microsoft, with its Secretary Mark Esper rejecting any suggestion of bias and saying the decision was conducted freely and fairly, without any outside influence.

Microsoft did not have a comment on Amazon’s intent to file the motion. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment and the DoD could not be immediately reached, Reuters reported.

Political bias?

And that is not the only legal challenge facing the DoD.

Oracle has also filed an appeal after its lawsuit about its exclusion from the JEDI project failed earlier in the year. It argues that there was a conflict of interest.

It is fair to say that the JEDI contract was blighted by a highly acrimonious bidding process.

In July President Donald Trump said that he was “looking very seriously” at the Pentagon cloud contract, and that it should be investigated.

The President said he would direct aides to investigate the pending military contract, saying he had heard multiple complaints about an allegedly unfair bidding process.

The project was then briefly placed on hold, until Defense Secretary Mark Esper could ‘review’ the program.

In the end, there were only two bidders for the contract, namely Amazon and Microsoft, with Azure being the eventually winner.

AWS had been considered the clear favourite to win the contract, as AWS already provided some cloud services to the DoD, and in 2013 won a $600m cloud contract with the CIA.

But President Trump is known to be no fan of Jeff Bezos.

A book by the speech writer for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis alleged that Trump asked Mattis in the summer of 2018 to “screw Amazon” out of a chance to bid on the contract.

Mattis declined.

The Department of Defense for its part has said that the acquisition process “was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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