And then there were two: Amazon Web Services and Microsoft named finalists for the Pentagon’s $10B JEDI cloud contract

The Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. (DoD Photo)

The U.S. Department of Defense narrowed down the list of contenders for its ten-year $10 billion cloud contract to the two companies, and their names will not surprise you.

Either Amazon Web Services and Microsoft will win the lucrative JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract, the Pentagon announced Wednesday, ruling out long-shot contenders Oracle and IBM. The bidding process, which has been delayed several times following protests from the vanquished, will wrap up in July, according to Bloomberg.

Only one company will be awarded the $10 billion contract to remake the Department of Defense’s technology infrastructure, which was the basis for some of the original protests against the procurement process. Oracle had also alleged that a former and current AWS employee who worked for the DoD during the bidding process had a conflict of interest, but Wednesday’s announcement ends any hope for that line of argument.

That means the bake-off can begin in earnest, and it will be interesting to see how public the companies are willing to be in pursuit of the deal. After Google took itself out of the running last year following an employee revolt over its work on artificial intelligence technology with the military, the most likely outcome has always involved the Seattle-area cloud giants.

AWS likely has an edge given the work it has already done with the Central Intelligence Agency, but Microsoft is a credible contender for a contract that would be a huge validation for its cloud business.

AWS and Microsoft declined to comment on Wednesday’s announcement.

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