Report: Google wants the Pentagon cloud deal, but doesn’t want its employees to know

The Pentagon. (Photo courtesy Flickr user David B. Gleason / cc2.0)

All major and minor vendors in cloud computing are currently polishing their bids for one of the biggest cloud deals the industry has ever seen, as the Department of Defense solicits bids for a 10-year contract to run the military’s cloud. That includes Google, according to a report, which is angling for a piece of business that could provide a huge boost to its image as a cloud vendor while causing a serious amount of internal strife.

DefenseOne reported Thursday that Google in indeed among the companies preparing bids for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project, but it is worried about doing so publicly after 3,100 employees signed a petition criticizing the Maven artificial intelligence deal Google signed with the Air Force. According to the report, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene held a town hall meeting with Google employees on Wednesday to downplay concerns over Maven, but that apparently didn’t quiet those concerns.

A Google Cloud representative declined to comment on the report.

It is not at all surprising that Google wants to toss its hat into the ring for the JEDI contract. The deal could be worth at least as much as $10 billion — potentially more depending on how the build-out goes — and it would be a huge marketing win for the cloud vendor that sits well behind Amazon Web Services (considered the favorite for the JEDI deal) and Microsoft Azure. After all, if the military trusts Google, why can’t you?

But, as Google likes to emphasize, it is not a conventional company. Google has walked away from business for ideological reasons before, pulling its servers out of China in 2010 after some of its source code was stolen by hackers believed to be working for the Chinese government, and essentially ceding the search market to Baidu.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, ended 2017 with 80,110 employees. You have to figure the vast majority of those employees work for Google in some fashion, so the concerns of four or five percent of Google employees might not be a huge deterrent to its pursuit of billions in cloud revenue.

But while AWS and Microsoft have publicly stated interest in the bid, and cloud also-ran Oracle is driving all over the Washington D.C. area talking trash about AWS to anyone who will listen, Google’s silence speaks volumes about its position.

Proposals are due around the end of May, and the DoD is expected to pick a winner around September.

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