Microsoft adds to NSA cloud protest

Microsoft has made a new filing as part of its argument that the National Security Agency is mistaken in picking Amazon for a $10 billion cloud project.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft continues to pursue its protest of a $10 billion National Security Agency cloud computing contract that went to rival Amazon Web Services.

Microsoft recently filed a supplemental protest with the Government Accountability Office that continues its argument that the NSA made a mistake in choosing AWS.

The original filing hit on July 21 and the supplemental filing was made on Sept. 2, which indicates Microsoft is responding to the NSA’s report on its protest.

Once an agency is notified that a protest has been filed, they have about 30 days to send GAO a written report on the procurement and the process they want through. The agency also provides information they believe refutes the allegations made by the protestor.

Microsoft is required to respond to the agency report. But the company has taken an extra step in making a supplemental filing to its protest.

That means that there was something in NSA's report or in the documents the agency provided to GAO that triggered additional responses by Microsoft.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Microsoft is more likely to prevail. But all of that indicates this fight is going to go on.

One other possibility is that the new protest filing by Microsoft might raise concerns with NSA and pressure the agency to take a corrective action.

Given the NSA is the customer, it is not surprising that we're not hearing much more about this classified contract.

What we do know so far is that it is worth up to $10 billion and goes by the dramatic name of “WildandStormy.” Other details are scarce, but this contract fits a bigger pattern across the intelligence community of moving more data and applications to the cloud.

WildandStormy will likely replace the on-premise based GovCloud environment. Already underway and separately is a multiple-award effort known as Commercial Cloud Enterprise or C2E, of which Microsoft and AWS hold positions on alongside three other cloud hosting providers.

Although Microsoft filed a supplemental protest, the original protest filing on July 21 is the starting point for a decision. The due date of Oct. 29 remains GAO’s deadline for a decision.

If GAO rules against Microsoft, I’d expect Microsoft to take the next step and go the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. If GAO rules in Microsoft's favor, we’ll have to see what the recommendation is. It isn’t automatic that AWS will go to court if the decision goes in Microsoft’s favor.

Watch this space because this fight is far from over.