The US Department of Defense has decided to cancel its $10 billion cloud contract with Microsoft because it reckons it no longer meets its needs.

Scott Bicheno

July 7, 2021

3 Min Read
US government decides single-vendor public cloud contracts are a bad idea

The US Department of Defense has decided to cancel its $10 billion cloud contract with Microsoft because it reckons it no longer meets its needs.

It took years for the DoD to pick Microsoft for the deal, a decision that seemed to be influenced by then President Trump’s intervention to make sure AWS didn’t get any of the action. There was suspicion that the move was influenced by Trump’s personal dislike of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper, and AWS decided to sue the government accordingly.

That legal action was apparently enough to hold up the whole JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) process such that, after years of mucking about, the DoD has decided the contract no longer meets its needs. Given it was a ten-year contract you have to wonder what the thinking was behind making such a long-term commitment, so maybe AWS did the DoD a favour by throwing a spanner in the works.

“JEDI was developed at a time when the department’s needs were different and both the CSPs technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature,” said John Sherman, acting DoD CIO. “In light of new initiatives like JADC2 and AI and Data Acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within DoD, and changes in user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments to execute mission, our landscape has advanced and a new way-ahead is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and non-traditional warfighting domains.”

If the corporate mumbo-jumbo used in just that canned quote is anything to go by, the contract was probably unintelligible anyway. The announcement goes on to indicate the sort of thing that will replace JEDI. “The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) will be a multi-cloud/multi-vendor Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract,” it says. “The department intends to seek proposals from a limited number of sources, namely the Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), as available market research indicates that these two vendors are the only Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) capable of meeting the department’s requirements.”

So the government is resetting the whole process, with the winners already predetermined. What a waste of time. It would be funny if both of them told the DoD to shove its new bright idea but sadly they won’t. Microsoft President of U.S. Regulated Industries Toni Townes-Whitley attempted to put a brave face on the setback in a blog but couldn’t conceal her contempt at AWS’s interference.

“The 20 months since DoD selected Microsoft as its JEDI partner highlights issues that warrant the attention of policymakers: when one company can delay, for years, critical technology upgrades for those who defend our nation, the protest process needs reform,” she wrote. “Amazon filed its protest in November 2019 and its case was expected to take at least another year to litigate and yield a decision, with potential appeals afterward.”

It’s a fair point and we’re in no doubt that Amazon’s record lobbying spend had absolutely no influence whatsoever on the decision to pull the plug. Regardless of any behind-the-scenes shenanigans, it was reckless of the DoD to entrust its Skynet to just one provider and it says everything you need to know about the public cloud oligopoly that it thinks it has only two to choose from.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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