Google is in hot pursuit of a new cloud contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD), which could be worth billions of dollars, reports suggest.
According to the New York Times, the company is reportedly readying a bid to work on the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) program, the spiritual successor to the troubled JEDI initiative, which was cancelled in the summer.
In July, the department said it would specifically seek proposals from Microsoft and AWS, which it considered the only two hyperscalers capable of meeting its requirements. However, Google appears ready to put itself forward for consideration too.
A decision on which companies will take part in the JWCC program is expected to have been made by April 2022.
Although few specific details are known about precisely what the JWCC program will entail, DoD documentation suggests participating cloud vendors will help provide new capabilities to warfighters across US military forces.
“The JWCC will support such warfighter capabilities as joint all domain command and control, or JADC2, and the DoD artificial intelligence and data acceleration initiative, or ADA,” the department explained.
In another document, the department states that participating vendors must be equipped to “provide advanced data analytics services that securely enable data-driven and timely decision-making at the tactical level.”
The Pentagon has also previously implied the JWCC will deliver on the original ambitions of the JEDI contract, but in a fashion that reflects the latest advances in cloud technology.
“JEDI, conceived with noble intent and a baseline now several years old, was developed at a time when the department’s needs were different and our cloud conversancy less mature,” said John Sherman, CIO at the DoD.
“The JWCC’s multi-cloud environment will serve our future in a way that JEDI’s single award, single cloud structure simply cannot do.”
While the new cloud contract has the potential to be highly lucrative for Google (and other potential awardees), the company is expected to face internal resistance from some quarters.
In 2018, when it emerged Google was collaborating with the Pentagon on a project that involved using AI to analyze footage captured by military drones, thousands of employees made their objections known.
The company has since let that contract lapse and promised employees it would not bid for military contracts involving the development of AI-related weapons or surveillance capabilities. However, Google did not go as far as promising never to work with the DoD again.
The Alphabet Workers Union, the creation of which was influenced in part by conflict over the previous DoD contract, has already announced it will oppose Google’s involvement in the JWCC project.