It’s not about the money, it’s about the service, right?
As titanic tech clashes come, Amazon vs. Microsoft is at the top of the bill. Microsoft is protesting the award of a $10 billion National Security Agency (NSA) contract to Amazon, arguing that the NSA didn’t evaluate the contract bidders properly because if they had, the organization would have chosen Microsoft.
Amazon and Microsoft Battle for Massive Government Contract—Again
While details of the exact issues are scarce, this isn’t the first time the two companies have clashed over a lucrative government contract. Previously, Microsoft and Amazon fought over a $10 billion Defense Department contract, with the acrimony dragging on for years.
Eventually, Microsoft won the JEDI cloud services contract, but not before the initial contract was cancelled and reinstated due to Amazon’s protests.
This time around, the shoe is on the other foot. The NSA is shifting some of its substantial server requirements off-site, and Microsoft and Amazon are both well-positioned to handle the significant hardware demands. An official NSA spokesperson confirmed the awarding of the contract (codenamed WildandStormy) and Microsoft’s protest to NextGov:
NSA 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 Agency will respond to the protest in accordance with appropriate federalista regulations
However, the protest process isn’t a quick one. Microsoft and Amazon must now wait until October 2021 for the outcome, putting a temporary halt to the NSA’s offsite cloud computing plans.
Why Is the NSA Using Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage?
All US government agencies require substantial computing resources. However, due to the NSA’s mission and relationship with data, it likely requires more than most. So much so that the agency can no longer effectively scale its operation.
In 2020, the decision was taken to move the NSA’s crown jewels, its intelligence data, to a commercial cloud service. The Hybrid Compute Initiative will see a significant proportion of agency data moved outside the NSA’s walls. Again, Microsoft and Amazon are the only horses in the race, but Amazon has pipped Microsoft to the post this time.
Whether the NSA will alter its decision is another thing entirely. Bloomberg Government analyst Chris Cornille said that the awarding of the contract “reiterates that Amazon is still the cloud provider to beat” when it comes to government services. Furthermore, while Microsoft is in the race, “Amazon was forming relationships and gathering security certifications a decade ago, and Microsoft is still playing catch-up.”
Microsoft is pledging to reduce its carbon footprint by 2040 alongside other major tech companies.
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