As the Defense Department gears up to release an updated list of requirements for a new contract to move the Pentagon's data into the cloud, just one provider among the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is expected to be the deal's sole winner, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. 

Competitors in the high-flying cloud space fear that market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) could beat out its smaller rivals for the contract, known as the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract. The largest government contract ever for cloud computing -- expected to be worth billions of dollars over the next decade -- JEDI has ignited lobbying efforts among Amazon and its rivals who are fighting to slow down the deal's progress. 

AWS, which got a multiyear head start against its competitors in the public cloud space, has continued to win public-sector contracts in recent years amid a larger push in Washington to accelerate a movement away form on-premise data centers. The Seattle-based retail giant's 12-year-old cloud business accounts for 10% of Amazon's total revenue and is the tech titan's fastest growing segment. In 2017, sales jumped 43% to reach $17.5 billion, including fourth quarter sales up 45% to $5.11 billion. AMZN bulls such as Jefferies' Brent Thill expect AWS to triple its size in less than five years to hit $60 billion in revenue as a "gold standard for millions of customers." (See also: Amazon Web Services at $60B In Five Years: Analyst.)

AWS Continues to Ink Govt. Contracts

Late in March, a spending bill passed by the White House added language requiring Defense Secretary James Mattis to report to Congress within 45 days regarding "concerns about the proposed duration of a single contract, questions about the best value for the taxpayer and how to ensure the highest security is maintainted." Nonetheless, defense officials have championed the idea of offering JEDI to a single entity to speed up the transition to the cloud and better protect data.  

The Pentagon's deputy director for digital services, Timothy Van Name, told the WSJ that the process is not leaning in favor of any provider. While Amazon is the only cloud provider thus far to receive government approvals to house its most highly classified data in the cloud, Van Name indicated that the Pentagon believes a number of companies are qualified to meet the contract's demands. The department has also said that companies could choose to band together in a joint venture to meet qualifications. 

The JEDI contract, slated to be announced by the end of September, will be offered as a two-year base award followed by options of five and three years, respectively. (See also: Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon: Now ‘Too Big to Fail’?)

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