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Pentagon awards multibillion-dollar cloud contract to Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle

<i>Alex Wong/Getty Images</i><br/>The Defense Department has awarded Amazon
Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Defense Department has awarded Amazon

By Brian Fung, CNN

The Defense Department has named Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle as the winners of a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract whose predecessor the Pentagon had to cancel amid Amazon’s allegations that then-President Donald Trump had interfered in the award process.

The contracts announced Wednesday evening for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) call for providing the military with “globally available cloud services across all security domains and classification levels, from the strategic level to the tactical edge,” through mid-2028.

The multiple winners are eligible to receive a combined total of up to $9 billion under the program.

Each of the four tech companies is guaranteed at least $100,000 under the contract, defense officials said at a press briefing Thursday. The use of multiple tech firms for the cloud services instead of just one will make the work cheaper and more resilient, the officials added.

The new contract will allow US military personnel across the globe to access top-secret information in the cloud, said John Sherman, the Pentagon’s chief information officer. That means US military officers in remote places — aboard a ship in the Pacific, for example — will have better access to sensitive data when they need it most, Sherman told reporters.

The massive IT contract will help the US military as it looks for a technological edge on potential adversaries, he said.

“Leveraging US companies that are world leaders on this is what we absolutely have to have to be able to stay ahead of these pacing challenges,” Sherman told reporters. “This puts us where we need to be as a Department of Defense and protecting what we need to protect.”

The Pentagon’s multi-vendor approach diverges from its prior cloud contracting effort, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), which focused on procuring a single cloud vendor for the entire military.

The JEDI contract was initially awarded to Microsoft in 2019, a deal potentially worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. But it quickly became bogged down in a legal battle after Amazon alleged Trump “launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company in an effort to undermine its contracting bid and to hurt then-CEO Jeff Bezos, “his perceived political enemy,” because of his ownership of The Washington Post.

In 2020, the Pentagon said it wanted to re-evaluate its decision to award Microsoft the deal. And it formally canceled the JEDI contract last year, starting over with a new solicitation under the JWCC.

“We are honored to have been selected for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract and look forward to continuing our support for the Department of Defense,” a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services said in a statement Thursday. “From the enterprise to the tactical edge, we are ready to deliver industry-leading cloud services to enable the DoD to achieve its critical mission.”

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