Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract

Google is behind other technology companies such as Amazon and Microsoft in obtaining government cloud-security authorizations that depend on the sensitivity of data a service is hosting. Mint Google pulls out of competition for $10B Pentagon cloud contract
Troy Mann | 11 October, 2018, 19:02

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

Shortly after the protest over Maven, Google said it would not renew the contract or pursue similar military contracts.

Amazon was widely viewed among Pentagon officials and technology vendors as the frontrunner for the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI. Microsoft may not be able to win this multi-billion-dollar contract over Amazon, but Microsoft's Julia White emphasized today that the company's expanded Azure Government Secret Cloud service would make it "a strong option for the JEDI contract". At the time of their announcement, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained that, "While we are not developing AI for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas". A single vendor will be asked to do all of the work, which has ruffled the feathers of niche cloud players like Oracle and IBM that wanted to compete for parts of the business.

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". After working with the US Airforce on its Project Maven drone AI initiative, an uprising of protest from Google employees led to the firm declining to proceed to a second contract.

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

The remaining JEDI competitors, including Microsoft and AWS, have until October 12th to submit bids for the contract, which could last for up to 10 years. And also the fact that they had doubts they would be able to get the necessary certifications.

Google controls less than 10 percent of the market share around cloud infrastructure services, and a Pentagon contract would've definitely boosted its profile. This means Azure public regions in the continental United States will support FedRAMP High applications for US Government agencies who are allowed by regulation to host their information in the public cloud this year. Commercial cloud providers for the federal government must seek certification from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which awards approval based on the sensitivity of data the service is hosting. While it will still work with the military, the guidelines would prohibit the use of AI in weaponry. Initial bidding began two months ago and will conclude this week, with leading contenders including Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.

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