Amazon’s top cloud-computing executive publicly criticised the Pentagon’s decision Wednesday to award a lucrative contract to rival Microsoft at the company’s annual conference here. “It’s fairly obvious that we feel pretty strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly,” said Amazon Web Services chief executive Andy Jassy during a news conference Wednesday. “If you do a truly objective, detailed, apples-to-apples comparison with the platforms you don’t end up in a spot where the decision was made.” The contract, valued at up to US$10 billion over 10 years, was awarded to Microsoft in October and Amazon has formally challenged the Pentagon’s decision, filing a protest with the Court of Federal Claims last month that cites comments by President Donald Trump indicating bias against the company. Trump has repeatedly criticised Amazon, whose founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post. “You ended up with a situation where there was significant political interference,” Jassy said. “When you have a sitting president who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DoD, to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal.” While Amazon is aggressively challenging the award, the Pentagon’s decision has also put Amazon on the defensive at the cloud-computing re: Invent conference. Company executives often say they remain focused on customers, rather than competitors. But Jassy and other Amazon executives took opportunities during their presentations to chide Microsoft for high prices and restrictive-licensing terms, as well as to tout their market lead. What US and Chinese shoppers bought on Black Friday and Singles’ Day Microsoft declined to comment on Amazon’s claims. The size and prominence of the Pentagon contract could pierce the inevitability of Amazon’s hegemony in the cloud-infrastructure market, said Ben Narasin, a partner at New Enterprise Associates, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Large corporate customers that have been slower to adopt cloud technology than start-ups may find comfort in the Pentagon’s decision to use Microsoft’s technology. “Are you going to get fired for using what the US government decided is suitable for its needs? No,” Narasin said. The Pentagon deal drew comparisons to Amazon winning a US$600 million contract to provide cloud-computing services to the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013, a deal that helped give Amazon credibility with corporate customers who were wary about the security of cloud-computing services. “Six years later, Microsoft has come far enough along that if it’s good enough for the Pentagon, than it’s good enough for anyone,” said Bill Richter, chief executive of Qumulo, a Seattle start-up that offers data storage and management on Amazon’s system, and plans to expand to Microsoft’s cloud offerings next year. This week’s conference, with 65,000 attendees, was Amazon’s chance to counteract that impression. At a time when the tech industry is under fire for an oligopoly of giants dominating markets, Jassy trotted out market share data from research firm Gartner that shows Amazon’s global share of the cloud-infrastructure business of selling technology to run core computing functions online and on-demand, called cloud-infrastructure services, hit 47.8 per cent last year. Alibaba wants to use its digital capabilities to help companies transform But Jassy did not note that Amazon is facing increasing pressure from Microsoft in the market, which grew 31 per cent last year to US$32.4 billion globally. Amazon is three times as large, but Microsoft is slowly gaining share, growing from 12.7 per cent of the market in 2017 to 15.5 per cent last year. At the same time, Amazon’s share fell from 49.4 per cent. One way Amazon hopes to thwart Microsoft’s rise is to offer more services on top of its infrastructure, an appeal to those big corporate users that have been Microsoft’s best customers who often don’t want to cobble together offerings from multiple vendors. Over the years, Amazon has added new services, sometimes competing with partners who sell similar technology. At the conference, Jassy rolled out a new service, called Aqua, designed to help customers run analysis on massive amounts of data. It’s an offering that competes directly with Snowflake, a start-up that built its business on Amazon’s cloud, but has recently expand to work on Microsoft’s technology too. For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters , subscribe to our award-winning Inside China Tech podcast , and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report . Also roam China Tech City , an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus .