The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded its primary cloud contract to four companies - Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google, and Oracle.

The $9 billion Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract (JWCC) was repeatedly delayed, and comes after the failure of the JEDI contract that was controversially set to go to one vendor.

The four awards are set to last five years, with the cloud vendors competing for as yet undisclosed individual subcontracts within JWCC.

Army Sgt. Kurt Van De Graaff marches through a cloud of smoke as part of a ruck march event during the 2019 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Gruber in Braggs, Okla., July 18, 2019.
– Kendall James, Oklahoma Army National Guard/DoD

"The purpose of this contract is to provide the Department of Defense with enterprise-wide globally available cloud services across all security domains and classification levels, from the strategic level to the tactical edge," the DoD said.

"The Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability will allow mission owners to acquire authorized commercial cloud offerings directly from the Cloud Service Providers contract awardees."

"We believe the multi-cloud approach for JWCC is the right one for the DoD’s enterprise infrastructure," Rick Wagner, president of Microsoft Federal, said.

"Multi-cloud is already an established best practice in the commercial industry because it enables organizations to maximize flexibility, enhance resiliency and access the best technologies across providers."

The announcement marks the end of a lengthy and troubled effort to create a cloud framework for the world's largest military.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which was set to be worth $10bn over ten years, was announced way back in 2018.

At the time it immediately received criticism for going to a single vendor, and for contract requirements that competitors argued were weighted in favor of Amazon Web Services.

Oracle, which the DoD said did not meet the requirements, pointed to several DoD employees involved in JEDI who would go on to work with or for Amazon, or that had an existing business relationship.

Multiple subsequent investigations have failed to find any substantial impropriety, but Oracle tried to bring the case to the Supreme Court. It also managed to get a document alleging a vast Amazon conspiracy onto the desk of then-President Trump.

Google also did not meet all the necessary certifications to take part in the contract, and soon pulled out of the race - but at the time said that it "couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles." Thousands of employees have protested its existing and potential contracts with the military industrial complex.

That left Microsoft and AWS, with the latter still considered the frontrunner. Then Trump got involved.

Throughout the process, reports swirled that he might cancel the contract, and he called for an investigation into it. Trump was “obsessed with Amazon," five sources told Axios.

Then, in 2019, Microsoft won the JEDI contract - with delays to the project giving it time to meet the necessary requirements. Amazon, which has been lobbying publicly for JEDI, switched tracks and sued the government claiming Presidential interference.

By 2020, Amazon had successfully won an injunction on the contract - meaning that the DoD could not start using Microsoft Azure's JEDI until the whole case was concluded.

After the company sought to depose senior White House officials and the President, the Pentagon decided to kill the project entirely, reworking it as the JWCC.

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