The US Defense Department’s decision to award its $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract to Microsoft was subject to “a lot of political interference,” Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy said Wednesday. The decision, he suggested, could put national security at risk.
“When you have a sitting president who’s willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DoD, to make a decision without fear of reprisal,” Jassy said at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.
“It’s really risky for the country and democracy for decisions not to be made that are this important — we’re talking about the national security of our country and modernizing their technology platform, the foundation on which all of those applications are going to be used to protect our country — you have to make sure those decisions are made truly objectively,” he said.
The DoD announced in October that, after a closely-watched and controversial bidding process, it would award the cloud contract to Microsoft. A few weeks later, Amazon said it would challenge the decision in court.
The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud contract could be worth more than $10 billion over 10 years. It’s expected to include both IaaS and PaaS services in classified and unclassified environments. Google dropped out of the JEDI bidding process late last year, while Oracle and IBM were eliminated from the JEDI running in April. Oracle officials protested the bidding process and filed a lawsuit over it late last year, claiming the Defense Department violated procurement laws. When a federal judge dismissed the suit in July, it appeared the contract would go to either Microsoft or Amazon.
President Donald Trump has made antagonistic remarks against Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, seemingly in retaliation for negative coverage of his administration from the Bezos-owned Washington Post.
At the re:Invent conference, Jassy declined to answer whether Amazon had any direct evidence of political inference in the JEDI bidding process. He noted that couldn’t comment too deeply, given that the company is in the middle of active litigation.
Echoing Amazon’s previous assertions, Jassy said that AWS offered the DoD services that were superior in terms of functionality and maturity.
“I think it’s fairly obvious that we feel strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly,” he said. “If you do a truly objective, detailed apples-to-apples comparison of the platforms, you don’t end up in a spot where that decision was made.”