Microsoft is protesting a cloud computing contract worth up to $10 billion that the National Security Administration (NSA) reportedly has awarded to rival Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Microsoft, whose Azure cloud division also vied for the contract, filed its bid protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on July 21. It came two weeks after the NSA notified it that AWS had won the bid, according to a report by Nextgov.com.
“Based on the decision, we are filing an administrative protest via the Government Accountability Office,” a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed. “We are exercising our legal rights and will do so carefully and responsibly.”
The GAO does not release protest documents while a protest is pending.
The code name of the secret cloud contract awarded to AWS is “WildandStormy,” according to Nextgov.com, which reported that it appears to be part of the NSA’s efforts to modernize the Intelligence Community GovCloud, an integrated “big data fusion environment” that’s the primary cloud repository of its classified data, including signals intelligence and other foreign surveillance and intelligence information.
AWS declined comment, referring CRN to the NSA.https://e48f5b9c6ec262a26b555386b2fa3455.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
An NSA spokesperson confirmed it 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 NSA spokesperson said. “The agency will respond to the protest in accordance with appropriate federal regulations.”
A GAO decision on Microsoft’s bid protest is expected by Oct. 29.
A protest is concluded either when it’s withdrawn by the protester; dismissed by the GAO because it includes a technical or procedural flaw such as lack of timeliness or jurisdiction, or because the agency takes corrective action that addresses the protest; denied by the GAO because it found no merit to the protest; or sustained by the GAO because it agrees with the protest arguments.
Microsoft’s protest of the NSA contract award to AWS follows the U.S. Department of Defense’s July decision to cancel its potentially $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract that Microsoft won in October 2019. That contract was mired in litigation filed by AWS, which also had competed for it. AWS had obtained a temporary restraining order in February 2020 that halted Microsoft work on the contact.
The DOD on July 6 said that it had determined that “due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy and industry advances, the JEDI cloud contract no longer meets its needs.”
Saying it still requires enterprise-scale cloud capabilities, the DOD announced a new multi-vendor contract — the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. It plans to solicit proposals for the contract from a “limited number of sources” — namely Microsoft and AWS — “as available market research indicates that these two vendors are the only cloud service providers capable of meeting the department’s requirements.” The DOD, however, noted in its pre-solicitation notice that it planned to research whether any other U.S.-based hyperscalers could also meet its requirements.