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Federal Judge Grants AWS Request To Pause JEDI

A federal judge Thursday ordered the government to halt substantial implementation work on the JEDI cloud transformation initiative with Microsoft until AWS’ protest claiming President Donald Trump's interference corrupted the process moves forward in court.

A federal judge hit pause Thursday on Microsoft’s implementation of the JEDI initiative to migrate military IT systems to its commercial cloud.

Judge Patricia E Campbell-Smith granted Amazon Web Services’ request for a temporary restraining order that will prevent Microsoft from moving forward with task orders and substantial implementation work on the potentially $10 billion contract that has caused a firestorm of controversy in Silicon Valley and in Washington, D.C.

Military leaders recently said they would only wait until Feb. 11 before beginning substantive work on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract that Microsoft won last September—a window that AWS argues doesn't provide nearly enough time for a satisfactory resolution of its legal protest.

[Related: AWS Launches JEDI Cloud Counteroffensive]

“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,” said Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw in a statement to CRN. “We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft.”

Amazon’s lawsuit, filed last November in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleges that President Donald Trump’s animosity against Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos swayed JEDI source selection and created an evaluation process riddled with errors that should be interpreted as evidence of political interference.

As part of that lawsuit, AWS has asked the court to order President Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis to sit for questions in a deposition.

The public cloud leader, shocked it lost JEDI to Microsoft last year, wants to ask Trump in a deposition about his statement to Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of JEDI, as reported by a Mattis aide.

“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions—including federal procurements—to advance his personal agenda,” an AWS spokesperson said.

Microsoft is set to begin the massive migration of military workloads to its Azure cloud, and in countering Amazon’s attempt to pause the project has intervened in the case as a co-defendant of the government.

In a motion Microsoft recently filed seeking to dismiss the case, the company’s lawyers argued none of Trump’s public statements about Amazon were directly relevant to JEDI and there’s no evidence that they influenced procurement officers.

Microsoft has accused Amazon of “sensationalist and politicized rhetoric.”

Amazon’s case cites multiple instances in which Trump, first as a candidate and then as the occupant of the White House, openly expressed anger at the company stemming from Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post, which has critically covered the president. Bezos became Trump's "perceived political enemy," the complaint reads.

While Amazon alleges that Trump’s statements have created a clear record of bias, the official administrative record presented by the government in the case does not touch upon any of those issues.

“The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the Amazon spokesperson said.

JEDI began to take shape back in 2017, with the solicitation and source-selection process playing out throughout 2018 and the award announced in 2019.

Military leaders have been eager to begin implementation of the massive cloud transformation project after the multiple delays resulting from the previous legal and administrative challenges.

AWS argues a further delay would ensure the military purchases the best technology for its needs, and it would be consistent with the typical process when federal awards are challenged.

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