Google drops out of Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud competition

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

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

The biggest cloud companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, all have been jockeying for bidding position for the winner-take-all Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.

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

The decision to back out of Project Maven occurred after thousands of employees signed a petition asking the company to stop working with the military, with numerous employees resigning in protest.

"While we are working to support the United States government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications", a Google spokesperson said. The company then released a set of principles created to evaluate what kind of artificial intelligence projects it would pursue. Final bids are due October 12.

"Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it", a Google representative said.

Now that Google has dropped out of the race, its major competitors Microsoft and Amazon - who already work with the DoD and have higher security clearance - will likely be in the running to win the contract. But Google Cloud chief executive Diane Greene said at the time that the company could not control the military's "downstream use" of the technology.

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This follows Google's cessation of its role within the Pentagon's "Project Maven" AI drone system, which can identify people and areas of interest using drone footage, with Google's involvement triggering a backlash from the public as well as its own workers.

The bidding process for the JEDI contract has come under scrutiny because of its large size and the fact that the Pentagon wants to award it to a single bidder rather than share it among several providers.

The front-runner for the contract is widely believed to be Amazon, which already has a $US600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Google has announced that it will not be placing a bid for a cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon.

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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