Battle for fed cloud heats up: IBM, one of ten winners, claims the big prize

So, this is interesting. On Wednesday, a press release comes in from IBM. Big Blue, it read, was “awarded 10 year $1 billion cloud hosting contract to assist US Department of Interior’s move to cloud computing.” This, an IBM spokeswoman said, is the company’s largest cloud contract to date — and is larger than the $600-million secret CIA cloud contract which was awarded to Amazon Web Services(s amzn)  in a decision contested by IBM and now is in limbo. But I digress.
IBM SmartCloud logoMy first thought on this new contract was: “Wow! IBM one ups AWS on this whole CIA cloud unpleasantness.” But after reading further and talking to some people, it turns out that IBM is one of ten companies —  Aquilent, AT&T(S t), Autonomic Resources, CGI, GTRI, Lockheed Martin(s lmt), Smartronix, Unisys(s uis) and Verizon(S vz) are the others — that qualified to supply technology and services under this admittedly huge deal.
A spokesman for IBM’s Federal Government group said that total worth of the contract could reach $10 billion over ten years with IBM possibly raking in “up to $1 billion.” And that this contract will open doors to future government work, as will FedRAMP certification, which IBM is working to acquire. Starting next year, FedRAMP certification will be a prerequisite for federal cloud contracts. Amazon Web Services, CGI Federal, HP(s hpq), AT&T, Autonomic, and Lockheed Martin already have their FedRAMP certs.
That IBM went so public with this speaks volumes. The IT giant wants to show it’s a leading contender to win billions of dollars worth of government cloud computing projects coming online under the federal government’s “Cloud First Initiative.”  This particular contract was awarded months ago, but implementation was held up because one losing bidder, CenturyLink, contested the findings. That appeal was denied in July but the 10 winning vendors have been known for months.
Look, this is no doubt a big win for IBM, but it is also a big win for 9 other companies none of which issued press releases. Just saying.
Update: It turns out there were other press releases issued on this contract — only they happened in June whenUnisys and Smartronix proclaimed their wins. Also,  it’s worth mentioning that AWS partners with four of the finalists: Aquilent, Lockheed-Martin, Smartronix and Unisys.
As these other  vendors described the process, they each have  won the right to compete for more DoI cloud business.
This story was updated at 6:15 p.m. August 15, 2013 with additional information on Smartronix and Unisys bids.