Cloud-computing and retail behemoth Amazon won a legal victory today against rival Microsoft, as a federal judge agreed to order a hold on a massive federal contract Microsoft was awarded late last year.
Amazon late last year filed suit against the Trump administration over the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud-computing contract. Amazon last month asked the court to grant a temporary injunction halting any JEDI work while the case is pending, and today Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith agreed. Although the existence of the injunction is public, documents relating to the matter are presently sealed.
The JEDI contract is a $10 billion agreement to build a cloud computing and storage platform for use by the entire Department of Defense. Several firms were in the running for the deal, including Oracle and IBM. in April, the DoD dropped the list of finalist candidates to two: Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure. AWS was widely expected to seal the deal, and so industry-watchers were surprised when in October Microsoft nabbed the contract instead.
Amazon filed suit a month later. The company argued that it didn’t just lose the contract for ordinary reasons of cost or capability but was instead sabotaged for political reasons. Microsoft’s win flowed from “improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos,” the lawsuit argued. (Bezos is the founder of Amazon and CEO as well as owner of The Washington Post.)
“While we are disappointed with the additional delay we believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” a Microsoft representative said in a written statement, adding that the company believes the facts will show the DoD “ran a detailed, thorough, and fair process” to award the contract.
Sean Gallagher, Ars’ own national security editor, had a stronger suggestion: “At this point, they should just cancel the whole contract.”