Why Microsoft won the JEDI cloud contract

Don Sharpe
by Don Sharpe
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Not many industry observers or analysts expected the Department of Defense (DoD) to award Microsoft the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. Everybody recognized the Windows software maker as a strong contender for the deal, but Amazon Web Services (AWS) always stood out as the frontrunner due to its dominance in the cloud market.

So, how did Microsoft pull it off? Amazon claims the bidding process was unfair and marred by irregularities. But Microsoft President Brad Smith asserts that the company expected the win because it upgraded its tech during the bid window to surpass project JEDI’s requirements.

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Brad, who is also an attorney, told Business Insider that Microsoft gained an advantage after approaching JEDI as a massive engineering project, not just as an opportunity to pitch.

We knew how hard we had been working and, perhaps more importantly, how much progress we made in not just satisfying but exceeding the requirements.

Why Amazon thinks otherwise

Amazon has gone to court to challenge the decision by Pentagon to award the $10 billion JEDI contract to Microsoft. The company believes it should have won the deal because of its technical superiority over Microsoft. It has also raised the issue of political interference in the bidding process.

It’s not hard to understand Amazon’s expectations of victory over Microsoft in the JEDI contract bidding war. Its platform, AWS, has dominated the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market since its introduction in 2006.

The depth and strength of the cloud service put it above Microsoft’s Azure, its closest rival. Amazon says that it has deployed a global infrastructure, including servers and data centers, across more than 190 countries to cater to over a million active customers.

With Project JEDI, the DoD hopes to give American troops a tactical advantage, both locally and globally. Considering the extensive presence of the US military worldwide, Amazon may be right to expect that its global IaaS platform can offer the computing and data storage resources that these soldiers require to accomplish their objectives quickly, remotely.

However, Microsoft doesn’t believe that AWS is necessarily superior to Azure, especially when it comes to meeting critical requirements of Project JEDI. Its CEO Satya Nadella insists that the company has developed advanced hybrid-computing capabilities that no other cloud provider can offer currently.

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