Microsoft has been given provisional access to host ‘secret' Pentagon data in the cloud, striking a blow to Amazon's AWS. According to BizJournals, the Defense Information System Agency officials confirmed the authority, which is Impact Level 6.
The temporary clearance lets Microsoft handle some ‘Secret' level classified data – one level below the highest, ‘Top Secret'. Microsoft has six months from its award of the contract to obtain the authorization permanently, and nine months to reach Top Secret level. Undoubtedly, these require a multitude of security measures, infrastructure, and other assurances.
Currently, Amazon is the only other cloud provider able to handle such data. One of AWS's arguments against the Microsoft win of the JEDI contract was that it's “uniquely experienced and qualified” to provide the tech, and this change takes away one of its advantages.
“The Microsoft Azure IL6 offering provides classified processing capabilities up to the Secret level for DOD and Federal users,” DISA officials said in an email to the Washington Business Journal. “This represents a first for Microsoft in making their IaaS available to DOD communities for impact level 6 data.”
AWS officials haven't commented on Microsoft's authorization, and it's unlikely they will. The online shopper turned cloud giant received its certification back in 2013 when it won the CIA's $600 million C2S contract.
Its lawsuit contests that not only is AWS best suited to the contract but alleges that President Donald Trump personally interfered. A book published earlier this year by the president's former defense communicator says Trump told Mattis to screw Amazon out of the contract.
It'll likely be a while until we hear the outcome of that complaint. In the meantime, the DoD has agreed to halt any work aside from initial preparations. Assumedly, granting such clearance falls under those activities.