The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced earlier in March that it would award its multibillion-dollar cloud services contract to a single provider, a decision that received wide criticism from the tech industry. Now, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is formally adding to that criticism.
According to a new report from The Washington Post, which cites a company executive, IBM has filed a protest against the Pentagon’s plan to pick one vendor only on grounds that it restricts competition. The protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) days before the bidding process closes. The contract involved is the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), which aims to develop a large cloud computing system meant to help build new weapons and host classified data.
Companies interested in the contract are required to submit their bids by Friday, October 12, and they could include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. In early March, Microsoft also announced a cloud-based environment for the Department of Defense as part of its Microsoft 365 for US Government offering.
The DoD mentioned that producing several awards would only lead to unnecessary complexities that could prevent the agency from providing enhanced solutions to warfighters. But several companies in addition to IBM have opposed the single-provider approach, which is seen to be stifling innovation, among other issues. For its part, IBM argued that the Pentagon's approach would only weaken its cyber defense.
It is now up to GAO to verify or reject contractor protests. However, it remains to be seen whether those protests would persuade the Pentagon to switch to a multi-vendor approach.