Microsoft scores an edge over bidders for Pentagon’s cloud contract

Microsoft Corp., globally acclaimed for its office software is close to achieving the security certification that is needed to host the U.S. government’s most sensitive information. Reportedly, this could give Microsoft a competitive edge over other potential bidders in Pentagon’s winner-take for obtaining a multi-billion cloud computing contract. For the record, till date the status is only pegged by Amazon Web Services as the company expands its cloud computing storage centers via its Azure Government Secret unit.

The U.S. Defense Department has issued a final proposal for JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure), which it plans to award by September. Other major tech giants that are competing with Microsoft and Amazon are not happy with the plan for a winner take-all contract which definitely favors Amazon, the leading provider of cloud services. In fact, if reports are to be relied on, these contenders have requested for splitting the award among multiple contenders.

The process to gain security authorization before any company can provide cloud services to the federal government is very lengthy and costly. This is the key reason why other tech companies are lagging behind Amazon, as the latter has already secured the security certification. The next potential contender in the queue seems to Microsoft that is at the proximity to achieve the security clearance.

For the uninitiated, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), awards this security certification based on the sensitivity of data the commercial cloud service provider is hosting. While a lower grade certificate might be sufficient for cloud based services used for public websites, a high-level is required to host secret government information. An additional clearance would be required for those working in the defense sector from Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

For the record, FedRAMP charges USD 2.25 million on an average to the commercial cloud provider as one time authorization charge and USD 1 million a year to maintain the same. Reportedly, Microsoft is striving hard to make the case in its favor, showcasing that its cloud services are safe and competent enough.