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JEDI Masters: Amazon, Microsoft Battle To Build Pentagon's 'War Cloud'

JEDI Masters: Amazon, Microsoft Battle To Build Pentagon's 'War Cloud'

Who will be the military’s Jedi master?

That’s not a metaphor: The U.S. Court of Federal Claims heard a case Wednesday that will play a part in determining which of the country’s largest cloud computing companies will get to build the future of military data handling; the Pentagon’s $10 billion system known as JEDI.

It stands for Joint Enterprise Department Infrastructure, but it's also being called the Pentagon’s “War Cloud” plan. It’s a system for storing huge amounts of classified data that could be manipulated by artificial intelligence to make decisions in planning and carrying out wars.

Contract Award By August?

It’s an enormous deal to three companies battling to build the system under a contract the Defense Department wants to award by August., Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been seen as a likely winner of the contract for a couple reasons. Amazon’s data storage business, Amazon Web Services, has been for years an industry leader. Since 2013, it's had a high-security contract with the CIA for a similar storage project.

But Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT)’s Azure cloud platform has been catching up as an Amazon cloud competitor, and it was among the other companies seeking the JEDI contract. Amazon and Microsoft were named in April as finalists for the contract, beating out Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM).

But those two eliminated companies both have said the contract seemed designed from the start to favor Amazon, which both the Pentagon and the company deny.

Oracle is challenging the bidding process in Federal Claims Court, which was holding the hearing Wednesday. The details of the case are out of public view – the case, which could involve classified information, is a sealed proceeding.

Amazon has for a couple years been seen as trying to boost its role in Washington, with an eye toward winning lucrative government computing contracts, and in some eyes toward currying favor with regulators and politicians on policies affecting internet-dependent companies.

As a backdrop to the corporate wrangling, some Pentagon officials reportedly think a delay could negatively affect national security.

Related Links:

As Pentagon Cloud Computing Bid Deadline Nears, Google Drops Out, IBM Protests

Wedbush: Microsoft's Azure Is Closing In On Amazon Web Services


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