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21st of October 2018

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Amazon likely to win $10B Pentagon contract – Google, IBM, and Oracle aren't happy

The Pentagon announced the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project earlier this year, prompting a feeding frenzy among big tech companies eager to get the lucrative contract. Appetites have curbed a bit amid accusations the JEDI contract wasn’t ever up for grabs.

Project JEDI is a $10 billion defense contract for a single commercial provider to build a cloud computing platform to support weapons systems and classified data storage.

Despite the big tech bidding war, to hear Oracle and IBM tell the story, Amazon‘s had it in the bag all along. Oracle filed a pre-award bid protest with the Government Accountability Office in August citing, among other concerns, the fact that the Pentagon intends to award the contract to a single vendor. And IBM filed a similar protest this week, just days before the bidding deadline on October 12.

The single-vendor that IBM and Oracle appear concerned about is, of course, Amazon. But the protests are about more than just the government being unfair, it’s also about the Pentagon handing the keys to the kingdom over to a single vendor – a strategy that would make any security pro’s eye twitch.

According to Oracle’s petition:

DoD’s single awardee IDIQ contract approach is contrary to statutory and regulatory requirements; contrary to the perspective of numerous industry experts that a multi-vendor IDIQ contract offers the most advantageous approach for DoD’s near term and long term technology requirements; contrary to the market trend toward multi-cloud environments; and contrary to DoD’s own stated objectives of flexibility, innovation, a broad industrial base, and keeping pace with evolving technology.

Basically, Oracle is calling the Pentagon out for putting together a package that doesn’t appear to adhere to any of its own guidelines for cloud computing systems.

IBM’s in total agreement with Oracle. In a strongly-worded official blog post yesterday the company stated:

IBM knows what it takes to build a world-class cloud. No business in the world would build a cloud the way JEDI would and then lock in to it for a decade. JEDI turns its back on the preferences of Congress and the administration, is a bad use of taxpayer dollars and was written with just one company in mind. America’s warfighters deserve better.

Accusations the Pentagon has had a specific company in mind the entire time aren’t entirely unwarranted. When specifically asked if the stringent requirements for the contract were designed specifically so that only Amazon‘s cloud service, AWS, would meet them, the government failed to provide a response.

If Amazon gets the contract, AWS will potentially have a 10-year reign as the single provider, innovator, and host for the Pentagon’s most ambitious cloud project to date.

In related news, Google rescinded its bid for the project earlier this week citing ethical concerns. But company leadership also said its decision was influenced by the fact that it didn’t have the certifications required, which lends credibility to Oracle and IBM’s complaints.

We’ve reached out to the Department of Defense for comment and will update this story as necessary.

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