Microsoft's $10B "war cloud" deal with the Pentagon

The Pentagon has decided to go with Return of the JEDI. In this case, that stands for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project. (How hard did they have to strain to come up with a Star Wars acronym for that one?) They’ve been considering bids from multiple big tech companies for a contract to develop new cloud computing strategies for the military. Initially, it seemed like Amazon would have the jump on everyone else, but yesterday they announced that the work would be going to Microsoft. (Associated Press)

The Pentagon awarded Microsoft a $10 billion cloud computing contract , snubbing early front-runner Amazon, whose competitive bid drew criticism from President Donald Trump and its business rivals.

Bidding for the huge project, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, pitted leading tech titans Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle and IBM against one another.

The giant contract has attracted more attention than most, sparked by speculation early in the process that Amazon would be the sole winner of the deal. Tech giants Oracle and IBM pushed back with their own bids and also formally protested the bidding process last year.

It sounds like Microsoft had the best plan to accomplish the military’s goals in cloud computing. Of course, the one drawback is that every couple of days you’ll have to shut the entire Pentagon down and restart it, but that’s a small price to pay.

With the obligatory Windows jokes out of the way, why do we care about this story? As you’ll see in much of the media coverage of this contract, questions are being raised over how Amazon lost out on the bid. President Trump had expressed skepticism over Amazon’s offer on social media. And who owns Amazon? Jeff Bezos. And what else does Bezos own? The Washington Post. And what newspaper does the President mock more than any other aside from possibly the New York Times? I’m sure you get the picture.

It’s also worth asking how comfortable we are with cloud computing these days and whether the military’s secrets will remain secure. I mean, it’s not as if hackers are regularly cracking into the cloud and stealing people’s nude selfies and text message chats, right? But I suppose we’ll just have to trust that Microsoft knows what they’re doing.

Ten billion sounds like a lot for a cloud computing project, though. The deficit just hit one trillion again this year (to the deafening sound of silence from most Republicans) and you know how the old saying goes. Ten billion here… ten billion there… and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. But hey… they just agreed to spend $750K to let a bunch of UFO hunters figure out how to turn the tanks invisible, so I guess they still have money to burn.