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

11 October 2018

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract is a massive undertaking that aims to transform the USA military's information technology infrastructure by moving vast amounts of its data to a cloud computing platform. The company later said it would entirely ban the development of AI software that can be used in weapons systems.

The tech giant has made the of the the Pentagon's competition for a possible $10 billion cloud-computing project.

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Bloomberg added that a Google spokesperson said, had an effort by a number of companies including Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp., and Oracle Corp.to split the contract into pieces succeeded, the company could have "submitted a compelling solution for portions of it". 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. The protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) days before the bidding process closes. "I don't think this rises beyond the level of a PR win". In recent months, Microsoft has been seen as a competitive alternative as it expands its work with the intelligence community. 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.

Top Pentagon officials have said the JEDI contract would account for about 16 percent of the department's overall cloud-computing work, subsuming numerous department's own cloud efforts.

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Additionally, those working for the Defense Department typically need clearance from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA.) It issues security authorizations from IL-2, for hosting unclassified material, to IL-6, for highly classified data such as national security information. Having been unable to obtain assurance that JEDI would not be used in this way, the company made a decision to pull out. In early June the company said it would drop out of a Defense Department project to apply its artificial intelligence algorithms to analyzing drone video, saying it would not apply for follow-on awards when its existing contract expires next year. In October, the company announced it was developing Microsoft Azure Government Secret, which would help it obtain the IL-6 authorization. Microsoft first announced Azure Government Secret back in October, and today Julia White, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure said that new Azure Regions dedicated to secret USA classified data will be available in Q1 2019.

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