LAS VEGAS — Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy says he believes there was “significant political interference” in the U.S. Department of Defense decision to overlook AWS and award its $10 billion cloud contract to Microsoft instead.
Here’s the full text of his response to questions submitted by The Washington Post and GeekWire during a news conference this afternoon at AWS re:Invent.
We’re in the middle of active litigation so there’s a limited amount of things that I can say about it. What I would say is that I think it’s fairly obvious that we feel pretty strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly. I think if you do the truly objective and detailed apples-to-apples comparison of the platforms, you don’t end up in the spot where that decision was made. Most of our customers tell us that we’re a couple of years ahead both with regard to functionality and maturity. And I think you end up with a situation where there’s a significant political interference.
When you have a sitting president who’s willing to share openly his disdain for a company and a leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies including the [Department of Defense] to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal. I think it’s really risky for the country and for democracy, for decisions not to be made that are this important — we’re talking about the national security of our country and modernizing their technology platform, the foundation of all those applications that are going to be used to protect our country. You have to make sure that those decisions are made truly objectively.
Asked later to elaborate on his remarks, Jassy said that he knows the respective offerings from Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services “quite well,” and the company received “a lot of information” while competing for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. He reiterated his belief that there was political interference in the decision.
Amazon filed its formal protest over Microsoft’s victory on Nov. 22, citing video evidence to support its allegation that the bidding process was improperly influenced by political pressure from President Donald Trump. Jassy did not directly answer GeekWire’s question about what AWS hopes to accomplish by appealing.
Addressing the issue in an earlier interview with GeekWire, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said hybrid computing — letting customers run cloud technologies on their own hardware and data centers in addition to the public cloud — was one reason Microsoft’s bid for the Pentagon contract stood out.