Amazon cloud boss cites ‘significant political interference’ over Pentagon decision to award JEDI contract to Microsoft Azure
Amazon continues to make clear its concern about the Pentagon’s decision to award the lucrative JEDI contract to cloud rival Microsoft.
In late October the Pentagon officially awarded the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s AWS cloud division being regarded as favourite to win the contract.
Amazon last month filed a suit with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting that decision.
And now in an interview with CNBC earlier this week, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said that he believes the decision was not adjudicated fairly.
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.
Amazon is calling for the JEDI decision process to be reviewed.
“Anybody who does a detailed, apples-to-apples comparison of the platforms won’t come out in the same spot that that procurement did,” Jassy reportedly said. “Most of our customers tell us we’re about a couple years ahead of anybody else with regard to functionality and maturity, but there was significant political interference here.”
Jassy also reportedly said that he thinks the decision is “dangerous and risky” for the country and its national security.
“When you have a sitting president who’s willing to be very vocal that they dislike a company and the CEO of that company, it makes it difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal,” Jassy said. “When you have to do work to modernize your technology capabilities, as the DoD does, you need the best possible technology platform to build what you need to build.”
And that is not the only 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.
The goal of the JEDI cloud project, which could last up to 10 years, is ambitious.
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.
But 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.
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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