A US judge has temporarily paused Microsoft’s $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract following an appeal from Amazon, signalling a significant win for the latter.
According to various reports, Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith, of the US Federal Claims Court, agreed to the initial step. While the existence of the injunction can be made public, the documents pertaining to them are currently sealed.
Amazon has been ordered to pay a $42 million bond – petty cash considering Amazon Web Services (AWS) alone hit almost $10 billion in revenues for its most recent quarter – to cover costs should the court find the motion was filed wrongfully.
The awarding of the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) cloud computing contract to Microsoft by the Department of Defense (DoD) elicited surprise and even derision from industry watchers. AWS has been running the CIA’s cloud for the past five years with little complaint following a lengthy battle with IBM for the contract.
Given the DoD insisted on a single cloud provider throughout the majority of the procurement process, the smart money was always on AWS as the cloud infrastructure market leader. Yet in the press release confirming the award of the contract to Microsoft in October, the DoD said it ‘continued… [the] strategy of a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment… as the department’s needs are diverse and cannot be met by any single supplier.’
AWS alleged in its appeal, the reports of which first came to light two weeks afterwards, of potential presidential interference – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post – making the contract process ‘very difficult’ for government agencies. Around the time Oracle’s legal challenge over its exit dismissed, President Trump announced he was looking into the contract, citing ‘tremendous complaints’ from other companies. A CNBC article reported that a book from James Mattis, former secretary of defence, alleged Trump told him to ‘screw Amazon’ out of the contract.
The company has separately filed paperwork to depose the President and current secretary of defence Mark Esper.
A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars Technica that “while we are disappointed with the additional delay, we believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require.”
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