We're protesting over Pentagon's $10bn winner-take-all JEDI cloud deal — IBM

Judy Cobb
October 15, 2018

Google won't bid for the Department of Defense's massive cloud contract because it could conflict with its AI principles against developing weapons. 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".

Amazon is widely considered a front-runner for the contract and already has a $US600 ($843) million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency, with rival companies complaining that using a single vendor for JEDI would essentially hand it a monopoly position in the defence market. Oracle is protesting the deal as well. The firm also lodged a formal protest earlier in the year.

Oracle filed its bid protest with the GAO on August 6, according to NextGov.

This project is estimated to be an activity for nearly 10 years.

Opal said Microsoft deserves the military's business because it's "the only cloud vendor that has been deliberate in each step they have taken to protect privacy and security".

It's possible that the Pentagon's cloud competition clashed with that very statement.

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In addition to ethics concerns by employees at Silicon Valley giants vying for the contract, the process has become contentious because the winner-takes-all bidding process is supported by only one major power player: Amazon.

"Such rigid requirements serve only one objective: to arbitrarily narrow the field of bidders", said Gordy.

"We will enrol our technical teams in the same programme Google Cloud uses to train its engineers, allowing us to build internal machine learning expertise". Having been unable to obtain assurance that JEDI would not be used in this way, the company made a decision to pull out. "We believe America's warfighters deserve the best, not just good".

Microsoft believes its ability to deliver hybrid solutions that encompass devices on the edge of networks, all infused with artificial intelligence, differentiates its cloud's value-proposition. Unfortunately, JEDI, as outlined in the final solicitation, would not provide the strongest possible foundation for the 21st century battlefield. That would seem to be very well timed for a JEDI bid.

Those companies, along with Microsoft, have been jockeying hard to land the contract, which the DoD plans to award to a single bidder. More than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition demanding that Google should discontinue Project Maven with the promise to never build warfare technology again. Badly done, DoD, badly done.

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