Microsoft expands cloud service in push for $10 billion Pentagon contract

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The expanded Azure Government Secret cloud service will make Microsoft "a strong option for the JEDI contract", said Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, adding that the company is capable of meeting the highest classification requirement for handling "top secret USA classified data". In its statement, Google said it would have preferred that JEDI be open to multiple vendors so that it could have "submitted a compelling solution for portions of it".

The tech giant has made the of the the Pentagon's competition for a possible $10 billion cloud-computing project.

"At most of the major defense contractors' front offices you'll see American flags. you don't really see that at Google", William Schneider Jr., a former Reagan administration acquisitions official who's a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, said in a briefing that he said was funded by Microsoft and Oracle. Amazon has said it favors the single-cloud approach for the JEDI contract.

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Google opted out of the JEDI bidding on October 8, claiming the contract might fail to align with its AI principles - and (more importantly) because it didn't have some of the required government certifications. Google employees were reportedly not happy that their work could be used for military purposes, and now Google says its new ethical guidelines don't mesh with the project. "Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies, because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload". The about-face comes after Google employees protested and resigned at what they perceived as their company's enabling of warfare technology, and demanded a corporate policy to prevent Google from working on harmful technologies in the future. Some employees even resigned in protest. Google's AI principles clearly state the firm will not be involved in "technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm", "weapons or other technologies whose principal objective or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" or "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance".

"We will continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet their mission critical requirements", a Google spokesperson said in a statement. The company faces allegations from President Donald Trump and his allies that it biases search results against politically conservative sources.

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