Microsoft Expands Azure Cloud Service in Push for $10 Billion Pentagon Contract

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

Earlier this year, Google decided not to renew another defense contract called Project Maven, which provided artificial intelligence for the assesement of drone imagery. As the Defense Department outlined in March, the agency lacks "a coordinated enterprise-level approach to cloud infrastructure, [which] makes it virtually impossible for our warfighters and leaders to make critical data-driven decisions at 'mission-speed, ' negatively affecting outcomes".

Microsoft's announcement comes just four days before tech companies submit bids for the Defense Department's cloud contract, which is widely seen to favor Amazon.

"We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles", a Google spokesman said in a statement. Bids for the project, which could last as long as 10 years and be valued at as much as $10 billion, are due Friday.

Several big tech companies are currently in a race to win the Pentagon's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, and after Google pulled out from the fight yesterday, Microsoft is now touting an upcoming expansion of its Azure Government Secret cloud service (via Reuters).

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Amazon Web Services is now the only company to have achieved an IL-6 security authorization, besting other competitors including Microsoft, Oracle and International Business Machines.

Google says it chose not to compete for the contract because it believes this work would conflict with its corporate principles, and because it believes it may not hold all of the necessary certifications.

This follows Google's cessation of its role within the Pentagon's "Project Maven" AI drone system, which can identify people and areas of interest using drone footage, with Google's involvement triggering a backlash from the public as well as its own workers.

The decision to drop out of the bidding comes after thousands of Google employees protested the company's involvement in another USA government project. "You may see a place to recharge your Fitbit but nothing to indicate the sort of patriotic identity that the rest of the defense contractors have". 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. "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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