After several years of fighting and jockeying for position by the biggest cloud infrastructure companies in the world, the Pentagon finally pulled the plug on the controversial winner-take-all $10 billion JEDI contract today. In the end, nobody won.
“With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps,” a Pentagon spokesperson stated.
The contract procurement process began in 2018 with a call for RFPs for a $10 billion, decade long contract to handle the cloud infrastructure strategy for The Pentagon. Pentagon spokesperson Heather Babb told TechCrunch why they were going with the. single-winner approach: “Single award is advantageous because, among other things, it improves security, improves data accessibility and simplifies the Department’s ability to adopt and use cloud services,” she said at the time.
From the start though, companies objected to the single winner approach, believing that the Pentagon would be better served with a multi-vendor approach. Some companies, particularly Oracle believed the procurement process was designed to favor Amazon.
In the end it came down to a pair of finalists — Amazon and Microsoft — and in the end Microsoft won. But Amazon believed that it had superior technology and only lost the deal because of direct interference by the previous president, who had open disdain for then CEO Jeff Bezos (who is also the owner of the Washington Post newspaper).
Amazon decided to fight the decision in court, and after months of delay, the Pentagon made the decision that it was time to move on. In a blog post, Microsoft took a swipe at Amazon for precipitating the delay.
“The 20 months since DoD selected Microsoft as its JEDI partner highlights issues that warrant the attention of policymakers: when one company can delay, for years, critical technology upgrades for those who defend our nation, the protest process needs reform. Amazon filed its protest in November 2019 and its case was expected to take at least another year to litigate and yield a decision, with potential appeals afterward,” Microsoft wrote in its blog post about the end of the deal.
It seems like a fitting end to a project that felt like it was doomed from the beginning. From the moment the Pentagon announced this contract with the cutesy twist on Star Wars name, the procurement process has taken more twist and turns than a TV soap.
In the end, there was a lot of sound and fury and now a lot of nothing. We move onto whatever cloud procurement process happens next.
Note: We have a request into Amazon for a comment and will update the story when they respond.