Google pulls out of competition for $10B Pentagon cloud contract

Google drops out of Pentagon's $10-billion cloud computing competition

A Microsoft logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. November 7, 2017.

Under pressure from its employees, Google has refused to renew the contract with the Pentagon to develop artificial intelligence for cloud computing.

The contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI for short, calls for a massive cloud-computing system that can handle classified USA military data and enable new defense capabilities.

Google is behind other technology companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.in obtaining government cloud-security authorizations that depend on the sensitivity of data a service is hosting.

The tech firm revealed the latest decision hours after confirming it had exposed Google+ users' personal data.

In a report to Congress, the Defense Department said making multiple awards under current acquisition law would be a slow process that "could prevent DoD from rapidly delivering new capabilities and improved effectiveness to the warfighter that enterprise-level cloud computing can enable".

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Following details of the involvement of Google in Project Maven became known, thousands of employees at Google signed petitions asking for the company to leave the project and dozens resigned as a show of protest. Some Google employees reportedly quit over the company's work on Project Maven, which is a drone initiative from the USA government and Google employees believed that the project end up weaponizing the AI research. JEDI is massive deal, potentially running to ten years, that would involve transitioning classified defense data to a commercial cloud platform. For a $10 billion contract, Google could acquire the right company to bolster in-house capabilities, but the main point of ignoring this tender is focused on the alignment of values, morals and principles.

Google would have bid on the proposal if the project had been split, the company says.

IBM is protesting the Defense Department's $10 billion, 10-year cloud solicitation, saying the plan is anti-competitive and technologically flawed. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget issued a new government-wide cloud strategy, "cloud smart", that specifically emphasizes the need for multi-cloud and hybrid solutions and calls for a "technology neutral" approach.

Companies interested in the contract are required to submit their bids by Friday, October 12, and they could include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle.

The victor would help the Department of Defense build a single enterprise cloud that stores classified information and enhances its weapons capabilities, while enabling the federal government to consolidate its data centers.

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