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The JEDI Saga Continues: Microsoft and DoD Must Pause Work After Court Ruling

The force is not with Microsoft after a US federal judge ordered the company to stop work on its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract with the Department of Defense. The judgment represents something of a win for Amazon, which sued the federal government after Microsoft won the hotly competitive battle for the largest-ever IT services deal.

Amazon protested after the feds announced Microsoft’s surprise win on October 25, claiming the process was unfair. Amazon’s lawsuit, filed in December, alleges interference by US President Donald Trump, who has been a vocal critic of Amazon founder – and Washington Post owner – Jeff Bezos. Amazon, which previously won a major contract to provide cloud services to the Central Intelligence Agency, had been considered a frontrunner based on its track record with other government agencies.

Although it’s too early to tell how this increasingly acrimonious case will play out, Info-Tech will be watching closely – and we strongly suggest you do the same – because the implications across any IT shop in any sector promise to be significant.

Source: SoftwareReviews Amazon Web Services Product Scorecard, Accessed February 21, 2020.

Source: SoftwareReviews Microsoft Azure Product Scorecard, Accessed February 21, 2020.

Our Take

Some key takeaways for CIOs and other IT leaders include the following:

  • Plan ahead. Organizations need better processes in place in case vendor relationships go south. Just like IT has DRPs in place for a wide range of disasters, it must also have documented frameworks at the ready in case contracts are suddenly halted for whatever reason. We’re assuming Microsoft had such contingencies in place before this latest ruling: Make sure you follow that lead.
  • Slow it down. You can never invest enough in due diligence. While some stakeholders may push for rapid negotiations and contract closure, bear in mind that procurement is a marathon, not a sprint. Build in more time than you think you’ll need to allow for the migration of services, technology, and processes. Extra breathing room also gives your people time to adapt to the new cultural baseline inherent in any major contract and vendor relationship.
  • Prepare for a tighter regulatory future. The ramifications of the Microsoft/Amazon/DoD dogfight will ripple out for years. Expect US procurement law to get a lot of love and attention because of it. To be ready for this new world of procurement, start re-evaluating your documentation processes now and ensure they are pristine in advance of anticipated tighter regulatory oversight.

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