Google Drops Out of Pentagon's $10 Billion Cloud Competition

Alfred Osborne
October 11, 2018

The company later said it would entirely ban the development of AI software that can be used in weapons systems and establish a new set of AI principles that would set limits on the company's work moving forward.

Google is taking a pass at a potential $10 billion contract.

In a statement to Bloomberg, the Tech Workers Coalition said that "sustained" pressure from employees opposed to Google involvement in JEDI showed workers "have significant power, and are increasingly willing to use it". As the Washington Post wrote, Amazon is also one of the only major companies that supported a single, winner-take-all approach to the bidding process, which competitors have complained could essentially give it a monopoly on cloud computing contracts for the military in the future.

The Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI, is a project looking to find a solution for huge transfers of data from the Defense Department to military officials in order to make faster military decisions wherever in the world these officials may be.

The bids for the $10 billion Department of Defense cloud computing contract are due by the end of the week, and Microsoft laid out its case for that business Tuesday in a blog post that highlighted its ability to secure the most sensitive government applications.

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The JEDI contract attracted widespread interest from technology companies struggling to catch up with Amazon in the burgeoning federal government market for cloud services.

Google was provisionally certified in March to handle USA government data with "moderate" security, but Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) have higher clearances.

But FedRAMP certifications are just the starting point for vendors that want to compete for the Pentagon contract, which will transform the military's information technology infrastructure over a ten-year period.

The JEDI contract requires cloud companies to be authorized to host data of all classification levels, though it gives vendors some time to obtain the necessary certifications. In early June the company said it would drop out of a Defense Department project to apply its artificial intelligence algorithms to analyzing drone video, saying it would not apply for follow-on awards when its existing contract expires next year. Microsoft first announced Azure Government Secret back in October, and today Julia White, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure said that new Azure Regions dedicated to secret U.S. classified data will be available in Q1 2019.

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