Who wins …. for now in the war of Titans over control of the cloud?
It is common knowledge that the USA government, like many other governments, is moving its data to the cloud. The same goes for the CIA. Until now, government bids were won only by giants like IBM, Oracle, and HP.
Things changed in the IT sector in the US government in 2009 when Vivek Kundra became the CIO of Obama’s administration. He devised a plan to reorganize IT in the US government to make it more efficient, modern, and cost-effective. Kundra is responsible for moving 17,000 emails from General Services Administration to cloud-based Google Apps. In 2011, he resigned from the Obama administration.
AWS attracted Teresa Carlson from Microsoft to make its presence felt here in Washington. Carlson was quick to partner with traditional government contractors. AWS quickly made friends through her with government agencies.
These were only two pieces of the CIA cloud puzzle. There was more to come.
IBM had bid $93.9 million for the deal, compared to $148.1 million for AWS. Despite the higher bid, AWS’ technical ratings were significantly higher and less risky than IBM’s.
This didn’t go down well with IBM, and they marched to protest the Government Accountability Office. GAO reviewed the whole episode and concluded that CIA needed to make changes in the bidding process. AWS was not satisfied with this conclusion and went to court to challenge GAO’s recommendations.
AWS was granted permission to begin work immediately by U.S Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler on October 7. This is a significant win for AWS. AWS and IBM have both bid for the CIA deal for a lower rate since the first protest. The court ruling means that AWS will be required to pay CIA the original bid amount, which is significantly higher than the new offer. Did CIA lose in the war between the titans? The court ruling means that AWS will be able to start work on the project immediately. This means that the CIA will be able to “save money” over time. Is IBM going to accept defeat? But not yet. IBM can appeal to higher courts, and they will.
What’s the lesson to be learned from all this?
AWS is fast, secure, and reliable. They also know what they’re doing. To put a spin to Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind: If the CIA is on cloud, shouldn’t you be far away?
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