Fed up with Oracle's Sith, AWS wades into Big Red's lawsuit over Pentagon JEDI contract

Long-standing cloud enemies to do battle in the courts

AWS has intervened in Oracle's lawsuit against the Pentagon's plans to award a $10bn cloud contract to a single vendor.

The cloudy arm of the online marketplace giant said Big Red's claims that AWS workers had a hand in drafting the deal and got the inside track on competitors are "meritless".

There is, of course, little love lost between the two companies at the best of times.

But AWS is thought to be the front-runner for the sought-after $10bn contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), to migrate about 80 per cent of the US Department of Defense's IT systems to the cloud – and Oracle is desperate to block it.

Competitors have claimed the approach would lock the Department of Defense into legacy tech, stifling innovation, competition and security.

But Big Red escalated the fight last week, filing a lawsuit against the government that goes further than this, alleging conflicts of interest between AWS and the DoD and that the Pentagon "crafted" the bid to cut down applicants.

Broadly, these are that two people who Oracle claims were involved in drafting the proposal have links to AWS – one was there before and after an 18-month stint in government and the other worked for AWS as a consultant at another firm.

In addition, Oracle claimed the current AWS staffer had engaged in "highly technical" discussions with potential JEDI competitors and had access to a drive with information on the procurement.

AWS has now filed a motion to intervene (PDF) in the case, on the grounds that it has "direct and substantial economic interests at stake in this case, and its disposition clearly could impair those interests".

It added that its interests can't be adequately represented by the government.

"AWS has separate interests that the Government has no incentive to defend, such as AWS's proprietary and financial interests in its proposal and AWS's reputational interest in defending against Oracle's meritless conflict of interest allegations."

The motion to intervene was granted yesterday by judge Eric Bruggink and AWS has made a series of applications to access protected material submitted in the case. Bruggink has also set out the schedule for the case, up to March 2019.

Oracle filed the lawsuit after its bid protest was denied by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A similar protest lodged by IBM was this week denied. The GAO said it had to dismiss it "because the matter involved is currently pending before a court of competent jurisdiction". ®

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