(New York) The US Department of Defense on Tuesday canceled a massive cloud (remote computing) contract awarded to Microsoft in 2019 at the expense of Amazon, ending a court battle that had fueled the supposed influence of Donald Trump.
Updated July 6th. 2021
He plans instead to hire several companies, starting with Microsoft and Amazon.
The massive contract called JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure), which has been in the works since 2018, no longer meets the needs of the Pentagon due to “changing requirements” and “progress in the sector,” the department justified in a press release. .
It was held back mostly by Amazon’s lawsuit shortly after it was awarded to Microsoft.
Giving it up “allows to put an end to a TV series with some multi-year twists and turns that put the JEDI contract on hold,” estimates Dan Ives, a technology specialist at Wedbush Cabinet.
“Cloud transformation is not slowing down, the Pentagon had to make that decision,” he said.
John Sherman, the department’s chief information officer, said on a conference call with reporters that the Army “urgently” needs cloud services from companies licensed to operate for all levels of the defense classification.
The Pentagon will also begin a new procedure for recruiting several specialized companies, not just one.
The JEDI contract, for 10 years, aims to modernize all computer systems of the US armed forces, integrating more artificial intelligence in particular.
Since the call for bids expired in the fall of 2019 for this decade, Amazon, initially considered the favorite, has strongly questioned the department’s choice. Again, in April, a judge dismissed Amazon’s complaint at the Pentagon’s request.
The e-commerce giant, who has become an expert in cloud computing services, accused former US President Donald Trump of experimenting with the Pentagon’s selection because of his hostility towards its founder Jeff Bezos. He is also the owner of Washington Posta daily newspaper that published several investigations about the former tenant of the White House.
“We understand the Department of Defense’s reasons,” Microsoft responded on its website.
The department was faced with a stark choice: continue what would have been a years-long court battle or find another way forward. […]. The group commented on US security more important than any decade.
Amazon, for its part, welcomed the decision.
The group said in a letter sent to Agence France-Presse that the award of the contract to Microsoft “was not based on the merits of the proposals, but rather the result of an external influence that has no place in the public procurement process.”
“We look forward to continuing to support the MOD’s modernization efforts,” she added.
The division now plans to search several companies for a new contract called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), which will replace JEDI.
Mr. Sherman did not want to give an exact amount, only stating that it would undoubtedly amount to “several billions of dollars”.
The division will begin by soliciting proposals from Microsoft and Amazon, the only two groups currently “capable of meeting its needs.”
It will then continue its “market research to determine if other US-based vendors” can also meet its requirements, including Google, Oracle, or IBM.
Sherman said that canceling the JEDI contract does not mean the department made a “mistake.”
He said that when JEDI was designed, it was “the right approach”. But “the landscape has changed, as have our needs.”
Mr Sherman said the “main reason” for the decision announced on Tuesday “does not come from what happened under the previous administration, from what was said or not said, from legal proceedings.” He said the military only needed these new technologies “for now.”