WT Insider Analysis

Microsoft withdraws protest against U.S. Transcom's classified cloud plans

cloud-based security (Omelchenko/Shutterstock.com)

Microsoft has decided to back away from a fight over a sole-source contract U.S. Transportation Command wants to award to rival Amazon Web Services for putting classified data in the cloud.

Transcom wants to give AWS the contract and said it would do it without competition because AWS is the only cloud service provider with a solution rated for Impact Level 6, to handle data with a "Secret" classification.

Microsoft said in October that was working toward its own "Secret" designation for its Azure cloud offering.

In its protest, the firm argued that Transcom didn’t adequately justify the use of a sole-source procurement as opposed to a full and open competition.

The protest withdrawal was first reported by NextGov.

When asked for additional details, Microsoft said it withdrew the protest "because the issues involved were resolved to Microsoft’s satisfaction.”

I’ve also contacted Transcom because I’m not sure what exactly does “resolved to Microsoft’s satisfaction” mean? I'm also asking for more clarification from Microsoft.

But does it mean Transcom will move forward with its award to AWS, or did the procurement strategy change and lead Microsoft to withdraw its protest? Will there be a competition for this work?

I’m not going to read too much into this until I hear more from Microsoft or get a response from Transcom. But I can’t help but think there is more to this to meet the eye.

It is also worth noting that Microsoft has had some success turning back government efforts to sole-source work to AWS. In August, Microsoft filed a protest of a Navy attempt to give a contract directly to AWS. The Navy then backed off within days.

A longer version of this article originally appeared on WashingtonTechnology.com.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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