Google is competing for a $10 billion Pentagon program that will move the military's data onto the cloud — but wary employees could scuttle the company's bid, Defense One reported.
Defense Secretary James Mattis met last August with Google founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai about moving Pentagon data to a commercial cloud provider to handle both its paperwork — and to push military mission information right to the front lines of battle, Defense One reported.
Since then, the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, program has morphed into a single contract potentially worth $10 billion over a decade to be awarded by year's end, Defense One reported.
The race is shaping up as a three-way fight between Amazon, Microsoft, and Google — with Oracle a rather distant fourth, Defense One reported, citing an unnamed source.
Google, however, has kept its own interest in the contract out of the press — and hidden even from its own workers, employees told Defense One.
In April, some 3,100 Google employees signed a letter urging the company to forgo work on a pioneering but small-scale Air Force program called Maven that applies artificial intelligence and machine learning to the job of classifying objects in surveillance footage.
One source told Defense One the program is a starting point for future collaboration between the Pentagon and Google.
But at a company town hall Wednesday to discuss Maven, news of the possible JEDI contract came as a surprise to some workers, Defense One reported.
Some who attended the town hall told Defense One they believed many people at the company would have strong objections to the Google providing cloud services to support combat operations — even if it was indirect.
The internal ambivalence within the company is "baggage" that makes Google less attractive as a partner, one source told Defense One.
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