Google drops out of $10bn Pentagon cloud project

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene takes the stage at Cloud 2018

JEDI, which stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, is a Department of Defense effort to move massive amounts of data to the cloud.

If Google had won, the contract could have helped Google catch up with Amazon and Microsoft. Bids for the project, which could last as long as 10 years and be valued at as much as $10 billion, are due on October 12. Last March, Google was provisionally awarded "moderate" security clearance to handle USA government data. The firm has also revealed that it has to disclose the user data for Google+ users for the goal of this project. Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle are all eyeing the project, which is valued as high as $10 billion.

"JEDI's primary flaw lies in mandating a single cloud environment for up to 10 years", Sam Gordy, IBM's US Federal general manager, said in a blogpost.

The Force is strong with this one: Google is dropping its bid for a multi-billion dollar Pentagon cloud computing project called JEDI after a spate of employee protests.

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Only four months after the employee outrage at Google which prompted the search engine giant to end their drone programme contract with the Pentagon, CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly visited Washington DC to "smooth things over". It also would not work on technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms, and technologies whose goal contravenes widely accepted principles of worldwide law and human rights. 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. "Most importantly, current environments are not optimized to support large, cross domain analysis using advanced capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to meet current and future warfighting needs and requirements".

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 company stated that in working on such a project, it was directly involved in warfare. Several companies, including Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, were working together to oppose the winner-take-all approach rather than splitting the contract among multiple vendors. Competitors are anxious that Amazon has an inside track to the JEDI award because it has been the CIA's primary cloud provider for years and because the Pentagon's request for proposals includes highly specific requirements that only Amazon is likely to meet.

In a statement, Google said they "couldn't be assured that [the deal] would align with [their] AI Principles".

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