It’s a common knowledge that, like most governments, USA government too is moving its data to cloud. So, CIA too is cloud bound. Hitherto, only giants such as IBM, Oracle and HP stood any chance of winning government bids.
With Vivek Kundra’s entry as CIO in Obama administration in 2009, things were set to change in the IT space in US government. He drew a plan to reorganize the IT needs of the US government to make it progressive, current and cost-effective. Kundra is credited for moving around 17,000 employee emails of General Services Administration to cloud based Google Apps. He left Obama administration in 2011.
Meanwhile, AWS lured Teresa Carlson away from Microsoft to make its presence felt in Washington. Carlson, wasted no time in partnering with traditional government contractors. Through her, AWS quickly made friends with the government agencies.
These were just two pieces of the CIA cloud puzzle that fell in its place. More was to happen soon.
IBM had bid the deal for $93.9 million as against $148.1 million of AWS. Despite the higher bid, the technical ratings of AWS were much higher and a lot less risky.
This, of course, didn’t go down too well with IBM and off they marched to the Government Accountability Office to lodge their protest. The GAO investigated the entire episode and concluded that CIA needs to make changes in the bid process. This was not acceptable to AWS and they went to court challenging GAO’s recommendations.
On Oct. 7, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler ruled in favor of AWS and gave them permission to start the work immediately. This is a major win for AWS. However, since the first protest, both IBM and AWS have bid for the CIA deal again for a much lower rate. The court ruling means that CIA will have to pay the initial bid amount to AWS which is much higher than the new bid. So, did CIA lose out in the war of the titans? A resounding no, simply because the court ruling means that AWS can start working on the project immediately. For CIA, this means “saving money” in the long run. So, is IBM going to accept the defeat? Not just yet. There are higher courts in which IBM can appeal and they surely will.
So, what’s the lesson learnt in all this?
AWS is fast, safe, secure and they know what they are doing. To put a spin on Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind, if CIA is on cloud, should you be far away?