The U.S. Department of Defense has invited Google and Oracle to throw in their hats for the agency's multi-vendor cloud computing contract.
Earlier this year, the DOD scrapped its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract with Microsoft after years of legal fighting among competitors. Both Amazon and Oracle filed lawsuits challenging the contract when it was awarded to Microsoft in 2019.
After cancelling the JEDI contract, the Department of Defense announced the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract as its replacement. Instead of awarding the JWCC contract to a single company, it planned to award the contract to multiple vendors. The DOD originally planned to invite only Microsoft and Amazon to submit bids for the project but announced the inclusion of Google and Oracle Friday.
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder of analyst firm Deep Analysis, said all four companies are "in theory" capable of doing what the DOD is asking: provide cloud infrastructure to make accessing information from remote locations easier for the military. Pelz-Sharpe said for the companies involved, this contract may be worth billions.
It's unclear how the JWCC contract will compare in value with the $10 billion JEDI contract. Though the DOD is still evaluating the contract value for the procurement, it anticipates a "multi-billion dollar ceiling will be required," according to the DOD's bid notice.
Alan Pelz-SharpeFounder, Deep Analysis
"This will be a very substantial contract, and the winner of it will be well placed to build out a more permanent cloud system for the DOD in the future," he said.
Google makes its case
According to the DOD's bid notice, the federal government anticipates awarding two contracts to Amazon and Microsoft. However, by extending an invitation to Google and Oracle, it is inviting the companies to demonstrate their ability to meet the DOD's needs and receive contracts as well.
In a blog post written Nov. 11 before receiving a formal invitation to submit a bid, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said Google will "absolutely bid" if invited.
"If selected as one of the compliant vendors, we will proudly work with the DOD to help them modernize their operations," he said.
Kurian said that Google refrained from bidding on the original JEDI contract because the company's technologies couldn't meet the classification and technical requirements needed to compete. Additionally, the original JEDI contract was a single award, which Kurian said meant it was possible some DOD projects would not be compatible with Google's AI Principles.
Kurian said Google is willing to bid now because its technologies have matured to meet multiple government classification levels. Kurian said the company also prefers the JWCC contract's multi-vendor award approach. Since no single vendor will be required to complete all of the projects included in the JWCC contract, Google will not have to take on projects incompatible with its principles, Kurian said. Google employees have previously protested use of the firm's AI capabilities in warfare technology.
"Since the earliest years of Google, we have proudly partnered with the U.S. government," Kurian said. "We also proudly serve the U.S. military, whether it be detecting cancer faster, finding rust corrosion on navy vessels, or helping the Air Force improve aircraft maintenance. While doing so, we follow the processes we've put in place to ensure that our work aligns with our key areas of focus and the policies we have articulated."
Indeed, Pelz-Sharpe said Google has earned its place in the running for the JWCC contract.
"Google makes sense as a contender, as it has the hyperscale cloud infrastructure and has been expanding its footprint in the enterprise cloud computing market for some time," he said.
Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.