Amazon Wins Huge $10 Billion ‘WildandStormy’ Secret NSA Contract And Microsoft Is Livid
Amazon has secured a lucrative contract dubbed 'WildandStormy' to supply its Amazon Web Services (AWS) to the United States National Security Agency (NSA), in a deal that could be worth as much as $10 billion when all is said and done. However, it might be premature for Amazon to celebrate the contract win—it's under legal dispute by Microsoft.
If this situation sounds familiar, it's because Amazon and Microsoft already fought over a similarly massive contract to supply their respective cloud services to the government. Back in 2019, the US Department of Justice awarded Microsoft Azure for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, with the JEDI contract having a ceiling of $10 billion as well.
Amazon cried foul, however, and filed a lawsuit alleging that former President Donald Trump influenced the decision over his disdain for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who at the time was also the company's CEO. In a shocking turn of events, the Pentagon canceled Microsoft's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, to pursue a deal with both Microsoft and Amazon.
"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," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Well, turnabout is fair play, right? This time around, it is Amazon that is the beneficiary of another $10 billion cloud contract, awarded by the NSA. There are not a whole lot of details to parse, but the one nugget that stands out is Microsoft's protest over the deal.
"Based on the decision we are filing an administrative protest via the Government Accountability Office. We are exercising our legal rights and will do so carefully and responsibly," a Microsoft spokesperson told Nextgov.
The administrative protest was filed on July 21, 2021 and is currently open, with a due date of October 29, 2021 for a decision on the matter. In a statement by the NSA, the government agency confirmed the existence of a semi-secretive cloud contract, but did not mention Amazon or Microsoft by name.
"NSA recently awarded a contract for cloud computing services to support the Agency. The unsuccessful offeror has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. The Agency will respond to the protest in accordance with appropriate federal regulations," an NSA spokesperson said.
Little by little, US government agencies are shifting from using their own internal servers to a third-party cloud provider, as part of a Hyper Computing Initiative. Cloud solutions like AWS and Azure offer the kind of scale to needed to keep up with ever-evolving analytics and intelligence needs. So far it seems Amazon is the main beneficiary, but we'll have to see what happens with this latest multi-billion contract.