Microsoft contests Amazon’s secret $10b cloud computing contract with NSA

The cloud-computing market has become a place of intense competition among the biggest tech companies, including Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the latter a unit that provides cloud computing platforms.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has reportedly signed a secret contract with Amazon for cloud computing worth approximately $10 billion, Nextgov reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources from the agency.

The agreement, called “WildandStormy,” was said to be part of NSA plans to renovate its main storage of classified digital data, Intelligence Community GovCloud. The agency reportedly has been steadily relocating data to GovCloud from other repositories to facilitate enhanced data-processing for the agency’s analysts.

In 2020, NSA reportedly stated their intention to move intelligence data from its own servers to those operated by a commercial provider to “meet demands caused by exponential data growth and massive processing and analytics requirements.”

Other tech companies have challenged the contract, including Microsoft, who filed an appeal to the Government Accountability Office after the NSA announced that Amazon had been chosen for the deal. A company spokesperson told the Hill that Microsoft would exercise its “legal rights and will do so carefully and responsibly.”

“[The NSA’s award] just reiterates that Amazon is still the cloud provider to beat across the federal government,” said Chris Cornillie, an analyst at Bloomberg Government, to Nextgov. “Microsoft has come a long way and made it a two way horse race in government, but Amazon was forming relationships and gathering security certifications a decade ago and Microsoft is still playing catch-up.”

It’s not the first time Amazon has competed with Microsoft in the cloud field – one of the biggest cloud service suppliers. Microsoft has been leading this market, covering 95 percent of demand, according to Business Insider.

AWS has lately become a formidable competitor as it was previously selected for several other intelligence community contracts, including a $600 million deal with the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013.

In addition, the Pentagon last month canceled a 2019 contract with Microsoft for the creation of cloud infrastructure worth $10 billion, following legal action from Amazon contesting the deal. According to recent reports, the Pentagon may consider bringing in other companies to the project, including Amazon.

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