Zavian Tate, a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, pushes a large Amazon Dash button, in Birmingham, Ala. File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Judge sides with Pentagon and Amazon in cloud bidding case

A federal judge is dismissing allegations that bidding for a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon was rigged to favour Amazon.

Friday’s ruling dismissing Oracle’s claims clears the Defence Department to award the contract to one of two finalists: Amazon or Microsoft.

Oracle and IBM were eliminated during an earlier round, but Oracle persisted with a legal challenge claiming conflicts of interest.

Court of Federal Claims Judge Eric Bruggink said Friday that Oracle can’t demonstrate favouritism because it didn’t meet the project’s bidding requirements to begin with. Bruggink also sided with a Pentagon contracting officer’s earlier finding that there were no conflicts affecting the bidding.

The Pentagon says the project is vital to national security. It wants to pick a vendor as soon as Aug. 23.

Formally called the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure plan, or JEDI, the military’s computing project would store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the Pentagon to use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.

Amazon was considered an early favourite when the Pentagon began detailing its cloud needs in 2017, but faced protests from rivals that opposed the idea of a one-vendor approach. Rivals accused Amazon executives and the Pentagon of being overly cozy.

Oracle had its final chance to make its case against Amazon — and the integrity of the government’s bidding process — in oral arguments Wednesday. The judge ruled two days later.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger didn’t address the ruling in a statement Friday but said the company looks forward to working with the Defence Department and other agencies in the future because Oracle’s cloud products offer “significant performance and security capabilities” over competitors.

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