Microsoft Catching Up to Amazon in Security Clearances for Cloud

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Microsoft Corp. is catching up to Inc. in obtaining federal security approvals, giving it an edge over other potential bidders in the Pentagon’s winner-take-all competition for a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract. The company best-known for its office software is advancing toward the certification needed to host the government’s most sensitive, classified information — a status held currently only by Amazon Web Services — as it expands cloud-computing storage centers through its Azure Government Secret unit.

“Based on the security accreditation process alone there are really only two competitors,” Amazon and Microsoft, said Christopher Cornillie, a federal market analyst for Bloomberg Government. The Defense Department is moving, slowly, toward issuing a final request for proposals for the project it calls the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, which it has said it plans to award by September. Other potential bidders have complained that plans for a winner-take-all contract favor Amazon, the dominant provider of cloud services, and have called for splitting the award among multiple contenders.

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