Google is reportedly bidding to become a US military cloud provider.

The company hopes to compete for the successor to the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, a huge deal to provide almost all of the Department of Defense's cloud computing needs that was canceled due to legal challenges.

Google was unable to compete for the single-award JEDI as it lacked the necessary certifications, but believes it will be able to handle at least some of the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract, which will be a multi-cloud, multi-vendor program.

Google Android
– Sebastian Moss

The New York Times cites multiple sources claiming Google is working on a new proposal for the Pentagon. In September, Google’s cloud unit internally declared the project emergency “Code Yellow,” which allowed the company to pull engineers off other assignments and focus them on the military project.

The company expects to find out whether it will qualify for the JWCC in a few weeks. The Department of Defense previously said it expected only Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to be able to compete, but said it would reach out to Google, Oracle, and IBM.

Back in 2018, the DoD launched a tender for a single-award cloud contract worth as much as $10bn over 10 years. After numerous delays, criticisms, and legal challenges, Microsoft was awarded the contract in 2019.

Following the award, rival Amazon Web Services launched an extensive legal and public fight, claiming that President Donald Trump had blocked it from winning the contract.

This July, the DoD dropped JEDI, saying the legal delays were a threat to national security. It relaunched the cloud contract as JWCC, with awards expected from April.

Should Google be allowed to compete, it is not clear how its staff will react. The company previously secretly worked on a drone image recognition program, Project Maven, but when the project was made public by Gizmodo, the reaction from the wider Google community was far from positive - around a dozen employees resigned, while more than 4,000 signed a petition against it. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” the petition said.

In response, Google released its AI Principles that clarified the company's views on working with the military, and in June said that it would not renew its Maven contract.

It then used those principles to excuse it dropping out of JEDI (even though it could not compete simply because it didn't have the right qualifications). "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 spokesperson said in a statement at the time.

JWCC would allow for Google to have more control over which subcontracts it pursues, but DoD rules about sensitive data mean that the cloud provider would not necessarily know what data it stores or workloads it processes.

"It is no surprise that Google has continued seeking lucrative contracts with the Department of Defense," the Alphabet Workers Union, which has protested other controversial Google contracts, said.

"They have spent years firing organizers & limiting transparency because the bottom line is all that matters to Google.

"Workers will fight this - and we will win again."

Get a weekly roundup of North America news, direct to your inbox.