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AWS to request temporary halt to Microsoft’s work on $10bn JEDI cloud contract

Amazon to file temporary restraining order with the US federal court to prevent Microsoft undertaking any substantial work relating to its delivery of US government’s JEDI cloud contract

Microsoft’s ability to start work on a controversial $10bn US government cloud contract could be subject to a court-ordered delay, if its arch rival Amazon Web Services (AWS) gets its way.

AWS is planning to apply to the US Federal Court for a temporary restraining order against Microsoft to prevent it starting work on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract that it secured with the US Department of Defense (DoD) in October 2019.

This is because Amazon wants to prevent any “substantial” work pertaining to the delivery of the contract being undertaken until the legal action it is pursuing against the US government over its decision to award the contract to Microsoft has played out.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, AWS CEO Andy Jassy has gone on record to blame “significant political interference” for the cloud giant missing out on the contract, which centres on the provision of a general-purpose cloud platform to the DoD.

“AWS intends to file a motion for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the issuance of substantive task orders under the contract, which the United States has previously advised AWS and the court will begin on 11 February 2020, given the United States’ consistent position that the services to be procured under the contract are urgently needed in support of national security,” the filing reads.

As things currently stand, Microsoft is due to start work on the contract on 11 February, unless Amazon’s application for a temporary halt is upheld by the court.

According to the filing, the court will now announce on 11 February whether Amazon’s restraining order application has been successful.

The filing also states that Microsoft and the DoD are on course to file “partial motions” in support of having the case dismissed by the court on 24 January 2020.

If the court grants AWS’s wish to have work on the project temporarily halted, it will be the latest in a long line of delays that have blighted the procurement and delivery of the JEDI contract.

Read more about the JEDI cloud contract

As previously detailed by Computer Weekly, the procurement process for the contract took more than two years to play out, and was marred by legal action and protests that centred on claims that the contract unfairly favoured AWS from the start.

For this reason, AWS had been the frontrunner to secure the contract all the way through the procurement, which is why the DoD’s decision to award it to Microsoft came as such a surprise.

In mid-November 2019, AWS confirmed it would appeal the decision to award the contract to Microsoft at the US Court of Federal Appeals on the basis that, in its opinion, “numerous aspects” of the procurement process were blighted by “deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias”.

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