Meet the exec behind Microsoft’s $10 billion JEDI Pentagon cloud contract win and its efforts to woo industries like healthcare, finance, and government (MSFT, AMZN)

Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft's president of US regulated industries.

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Microsoft wants to position itself as the top cloud provider for governments, schools, financial firms, and healthcare companies and one key executive is at the center of it all of those ambitions: Toni Townes-Whitley.

Townes-Whitley, the company’s president of US regulated industries who joined Microsoft in 2015 and took on the role in 2018, has already made her mark on Microsoft’s $15 billion public-sector business when she helped the company land a $10 billion cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon in late 2019. 

Then, the importance of her role expanded unexpectedly this year as the coronavirus crisis has forced Microsoft customers to adopt cloud-computing technologies at lightning speed.

She’s steering Microsoft’s government and regulated industries business at an unprecedented time, as the company courts massive customers and shifts its strategy to target industries in her purview — such as healthcare — with new industry-specific clouds. While it’s a big role, Townes-Whitley is well-suited to it after a career consulting to government organizations, most recently as president of government IT consultant CGI Federal. 

While Microsoft declined to make Townes-Whitley available for an interview for this report, she accepted questions via email, where she said that she grew up in the public sector, too: Her mom was an elementary school principal and her dad was a three-star Army general. “Our family mantra was and continues to be, ‘To whom much is given much is required,” Townes-Whitley told Business Insider.

Townes-Whitley helped Microsoft win the Pentagon’s cloud contract, and it’s not slowing down despite a continued fight from Amazon

Microsoft scored a major win last year when the Department of Defense chose it for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) deal, a colossal cloud project around storing and managing sensitive military and defense data. Amazon, which is largely seen as the leading cloud provider with the greatest market share, quickly challenged the decision in court, alleging political interference from President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of the online retailer, and pointing out an error in the procurement process.

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While the decision is still playing out in court, Microsoft got another vote of confidence on September 4 when the Pentagon reaffirmed its decision to choose it over other contenders like Amazon. 

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives, who is typically bullish on Microsoft, called the Pentagon’s confirmation of its decision a “game changer” for the company, in a note to investors. “JEDI will have a ripple effect for the company’s cloud business for years to come and speaks to a new chapter of [Microsoft] winning in the cloud,” he wrote. 

Following the Pentagon’s latest decision, Amazon pledged to continue fighting the contract award, writing in an unattributed statement that AWS “remains deeply concerned that the JEDI contract award creates a dangerous precedent that threatens the integrity of the federal procurement system and the ability of our nation’s warfighters and civil servants to access the best possible technologies.”

While Ives believes that Amazon could “drag out” the start of the contract — temporarily blocked by a federal judge — …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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