Google Cloud Wins Pentagon Cyber Threat Contract

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No, not the JEDI contract. Google Cloud wins contract to help the US defense department detect and respond to cyber threats

Google Cloud has won a contract with the Pentagon (no, not THAT contract) to help it detect and response to cyber threats.

The contract with the US defense department is said to be in seven figures, Reuters reported online news site Axios as stating.

The deal reportedly allows the Defense Innovation Unit to run applications across platforms including Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure while being managed through the Google Cloud Console.

Google cloud
Google cloud

JEDI contract

Google Cloud of course had initially made a bid to try and win the Pentagon’s JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract, worth a cool $10 billion (£7.6bn).

Essentially JEDI aims to create a single cloud architecture across all the military branches and combatant commands. The idea is to allow a seamless workflow and information-sharing environment.

But Google subsequently pulled out of the bidding, in part because the deal could go against principles it published in June 2018, following staff protests against the company’s involvement in developing artificial intelligence for military drones for the Pentagon.

Almost 4,000 Google staffers had signed an internal petition asking Google to end its participation in Project Maven. They felt the project would “irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent.”

In the end Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure ended up being shortlisted for the JEDI contract, which was eventually awarded to Microsoft in October 2019, despite AWS being widely regarded as favourite to win the contract.

Amazon challenge

But Amazon was very unhappy at what it believed was political bias from US President Donald Trump, and in November 2019 it filed a complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting that decision.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy had previously said in an interview that he believed the decision was not adjudicated fairly and called for the whole JEDI decision process to be reviewed.

Amazon essentially argued that politics got in the way of a fair contracting process, and in December 2019 Amazon officially named President Trump in its court complaint, and accused him of exerting “improper pressure” and bias.

Amazon argues the Pentagon decision was politically motivated by President Trump’s dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

And in January 2020 Amazon filed a temporary restraining order with a US court to demand that Microsoft halt work on the US Department of Defense cloud contract.

In February a US judge granted Amazon’s request to temporarily halt the DoD and Microsoft from moving forward on the up-to-$10 billion cloud computing deal.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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