Microsoft objects to NSA cloud-computing contract with Amazon

Microsoft has objected to the NSA’s (National Space Agency) decision to award a cloud-computing contract to online retail giant Amazon. The tech biggie has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, citing issues with the contract that has been awarded to Amazon’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS). The protest document claims that a thorough evaluation was not conducted with regards to the deal, before the contract was awarded.

Microsoft NASA's cloud computing Amazon
Image Credit: Zarantech

An Unsuccessful Offerer

As per a report by NextGov, the new project, which currently goes under the codename “WildandStormy,” could be worth as much as $10 billion. Though nothing can, as yet, be said for sure about the deal, a high ranking intel official has previously highlighted how the NSA is planning to shift a large chunk of its databases on commercial cloud computing platforms. John Sherman, the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) acting Chief Information Officer, had said back in February this year, that the NSA was seeking to take down some of its data stored on certain sites, and was also looking for some vendors to manage its cloud operations, under its “Hybrid Compute Initiative.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the NSA has also confirmed that an “unsuccessful offerer (read Microsoft) has filed a protest with the GAO, after the agency awarded a contract to Amazon, while adding that a proper response will be given to the protest in accordance with federal regulations.

Competition Over The Years

The filing is the latest turn to the long-standing competition between the two tech biggies. Earlier, the two had been in the race to get their hands on the DoD’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) deal. Two years ago, the DoD had finally granted the $10 billion deal to Microsoft, eliciting claims from Amazon about former US President Donald Trump’s improper influence on the matter, after he publicly criticized former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Then, in July, the Pentagon revealed that Microsoft’s contract had been scrapped, since the JEDI had ceased to be amenable to its “evolving requirements.” Interestingly, the tech giant has also attempted to get other governmental agencies to rely on Microsoft Azure, its cloud computing service. In December last year, it had announced that the development of “Azure Government Top Secret,” its cloud offering for highly classified information, was complete, and was impending accreditation.

It is not known as of now if this is the model that Microsoft had wanted the NSA to accept for its project. The agency will be responding to the protest on October 29.