Google Bows Out Of Pentagon's $10 Billion Cloud-Computing Race

Isaac Cain
October 11, 2018

The plan would see data now held by defense contractors moved to a commercial cloud solution, and tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and Google were lining up to take part.

The decision to drop out of the bidding comes after thousands of Google employees protested the company's involvement in another United States government project.

Now, for the cloud-computing project, Google says it believes that a "multi-cloud approach" is in the best interest of all government agencies because it "allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload".

Bloomberg added that a Google spokesperson said, had an effort by a number of companies including Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp., and Oracle split the contract into pieces succeeded, the company could have "submitted a compelling solution for portions of it".

Around 4,000 employees signed a petition asking the company to end its involvement with the project and some even left Google completely.

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In June, Google said it would not renew the contract once it expired, and that same month, it released a set of principles for its work in AI.

A Google spokesman said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg that the company is "not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles".

According to a new report from The Washington Post, which cites a company executive, IBM has filed a protest against the Pentagon's plan to pick one vendor only on grounds that it restricts competition.

The front-runner for the contract is widely believed to be Amazon, which already has a $US600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency. A dozen people resigned before Google pledged to ditch Project Maven but "continue our work with governments and the military". 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. Google's AI principles clearly state the firm will not be involved in "technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm", "weapons or other technologies whose principal goal or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" or "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance". "At a time when new technology is constantly becoming available, customers should have the ability to take advantage of that innovation".

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