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

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However, the firm does leave space for potential government collaboration stating that Google "will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas".

Google's announcement comes just months after the company decided not to re-up its contract with a Pentagon AI program, when protests broke out from employees who didn't think Google should be in "the business of war".

While we are working to support the U.S. 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. Bids for the project, which could last as long as 10 years and be valued at as much as $10 billion, are due Friday. 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.

That program, known as Project Maven, is created to automate the analysis of surveillance footage collected by USA military drones, a task that for years has been handled directly by the Air Force.

The software company said Tuesday that it will earn the certification required to host the government's most sensitive and classified information - a distinction previously held only by Amazon Web Services - by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

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. In early March, Microsoft also announced a cloud-based environment for the Department of Defense as part of its Microsoft 365 for US Government offering.

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

Amazon and Microsoft are the industry's cloud market leaders.

JEDI is the Pentagon's attempt to create a common cloud infrastructure and platform capable of supporting its 3.4 million users.

Amazon has said it prefers the single-cloud approach for the JEDI contract.

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