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The Top 10 News Stories Of 2020 (So Far)

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a steep economic downturn, the IT industry’s response to the social justice movement, an abandoned corporate takeover attempt, a possible spin-off, new technologies and old technology rivalries. It has been a very tumultuous 2020 – so far.

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9. Pentagon JEDI Controversy Continues, “Re-Announcement” On Massive Cloud Services Contract Due Shortly

The controversy and legal posturing over the massive JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative) cloud transformation service contract, with a potential value of $10 billion, continued into 2020.

In October 2019 the U.S. Department of Defense chose Microsoft and its Azure cloud platform for JEDI. The contract had already been the source of controversy for nearly two years as potential bidders, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and others, engaged in legal wrangling over the Pentagon’s decision to award the entire contract to a single vendor. Many industry observers believed the way the project was structured gave AWS a virtual lock on the deal.

Almost immediately Amazon filed a legal challenge to the Pentagon’s decision saying pressure from the White House against awarding the contract to AWS constituted “unmistakable bias” in the procurement process. President Donald Trump has made negative comments about AWS and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

In January AWS asked a federal court to prevent the Defense Department from beginning to implement the JEDI contract with Microsoft – a request that was granted by a federal judge in February. The Pentagon asked for more time to reconsider aspects of how it evaluated vendor bids and the same federal judge remanded the case back to the Pentagon for a 120-day review period.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, meanwhile, concluded a review that found no evidence that Trump’s expressions of animosity toward Amazon influenced the decision to award JEDI to Microsoft.

Meanwhile, the war of words between Microsoft and AWS has continued. In May, after AWS filed another protest with the Pentagon, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for communications issued a statement saying that AWS was looking for a “re-do” of the contract award process and called on AWS to “stand down on its litigation.” The Microsoft executive said JEDI would provide the Pentagon with “the latest advancements in enterprise cloud…But only if Amazon gets out of the way.”

Amazon quickly responded with its own blog post saying it would do no such thing.

On July 30 the Defense Department’s CIO said the Pentagon would update its decision – in what the CIO called “a re-announcement” of the Pentagon’s JEDI contract award – by the end of August. But few believe that announcement, whatever it may be, will be the end of the long-running issue.

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