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IBM Has Its JEDI Cloud Protest Rejected By GAO

The decision from the federal watchdog cites similarities between IBM’s protest and a lawsuit Oracle filed earlier this week in federal court as reason to deny IBM’s claim

Just like Oracle's before it, IBM's protest over the military's looming JEDI cloud-computing contract has been rejected by the federal government watchdog that oversees procurement.

The Government Accountability Office, in a decision published Tuesday, cited Oracle's lawsuit filed earlier this week in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims as grounds to dismiss IBM's similar protest.

"Oracle's complaint before the COFC includes arguments that are the same or similar to assertions presented in IBM’s protest to our Office," wrote GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong. "Accordingly, we view the matter involved in IBM’s protest as currently before a court of competent jurisdiction."

[Related: Oracle Slams AWS 'Conflicts Of Interest' In JEDI Cloud Lawsuit]  

IBM told CRN it had no further comment on the GAO's decision.

In October, just days before final JEDI bids were due, IBM joined Oracle in challenging the appropriateness of the winner-take-all approach to the potentially $10 billion contract.

At the time, IBM's Sam Gordy, general manager for U.S. Federal, said the course pursued, and ardently defended, by military leaders "would not provide the strongest possible foundation for the 21st century battlefield."

By mandating a single cloud environment for up to 10 years, the JEDI process departs from industry best practices, Gordy argued in a blog post.

"It denies America’s warfighters access to the best technology available across multiple vendors, complicates the integration of legacy applications and walls off access to future innovations," he said.

The GAO tossed out Oracle's protest in November, denying three claims: that a single award violates a statutory preference for multiple vendors; that the terms of the award restrict competition by exceeding the actual needs of the military; that the Pentagon didn’t consider potential conflicts of interest.

The Pentagon, in fact, complied with all federal procurement laws and regulations, the GAO decided.

Earlier this week, Oracle elevated its protest by suing in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The complaint in that case was filed under seal by the tech giant because it "contains confidential and proprietary source selection and proposal information not appropriate for release to the public," according to the motion to seal the document. The complaint was unsealed on Monday and echoed similar claims that Oracle made in its protest to the GAO.

While other technology powerhouses have also complained about JEDI's bidding process through an industry trade group, none filed formal protests with the GAO.

In April, Microsoft, IBM, Dell and HPE all joined Oracle in urging the Pentagon to abandon a winner-take-all approach to the multi-billion contract. Since then, a coalition of nine companies has gelled in opposition to what they believe is Amazon's preordained selection, including SAP America, General Dynamics Corp.’s CSRA unit, Red Hat and VMware.

The Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council's IT Alliance for Public Sector, a consortium that's comprised of all the cloud providers involved in the dispute, has argued a multi-cloud approach would adhere to best practices for ensuring price competitiveness and avoiding vendor lock-in.

The Pentagon has pushed back against complaints and resisted calls to change the nature of the award.

Pentagon brass have said any threat of vendor lock-in can be mitigated by demanding submitted RFPs that include plans that enable the military within two years to switch to another provider. Leveraging application containers is one way, the military believes, it can migrate if it decides not to commit to three- and five-year extensions stipulated in the contract.

Military leaders have argued that deploying workloads across multiple providers will increase security management challenges and make data less accessible to U.S. forces deployed in remote settings, such as naval vessels.

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