Google Cloud CEO says company ‘will absolutely bid’ on Pentagon’s JWCC cloud contract, if invited to

A window at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. (REUTERS / Stephen Lam)

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Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian on Thursday confirmed recent reports that his company wants a piece of the Department of Defense’s forthcoming multi-cloud procurement, the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability.

Kurian wrote in a blog post that if Google Cloud is invited by the Department of Defense (DOD) to bid on the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), “we will absolutely bid.”

“And if selected as one of the compliant vendors, we will proudly work with the DoD to help them modernize their operations following the process we have in place for working with our customers, including the processes we’ve developed around our AI Principles,” Kurian wrote.

The DOD is developing JWCC as a multi-cloud procurement replacing the canceled $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, which was awarded to Microsoft in 2019 but never made it into operation because it was constantly under internal review or protested by losing bidders Amazon and Oracle throughout the procurement. After facing an immense backlash over the single-award nature of the JEDI contract, DOD decided to move on to a multi-vendor, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity approach under JWCC.

Kurian’s comments Thursday come after his company publicly distanced itself from work with the U.S. military in 2018 and backed out of a contract to support the Air Force’s Project Maven. Google did not bid on the JEDI contract.

The CEO’s comments back up speculation and reports that emerged in recent weeks Google Cloud was vying to rebuild its relationship with the DOD, hoping to earn a spot on the JWCC contract.

“We understand that not every Googler will agree with this decision, but we believe Google Cloud should seek to serve the government where it is capable of doing so and the work aligns with our AI principles and company values,” his blog post says. “The JWCC framework will offer up many opportunities for Google to help the men and women in our armed services to ensure their success and safety, and we look forward to doing so just as Google has been doing for many years.”

So far, the DOD has said it will invite Microsoft and Amazon Web Services to bid on the contract and that it will talk to other hyperscale providers about their ability to meet department cloud security requirements.

Kurian hopes DOD will indeed invite others to be part of the contract. “We believe the Department should solicit assistance from numerous vendors, including Google Cloud, and that the Department should seek to make JWCC a multi-cloud environment, preserving choice, reducing costs and offering the Department a wide and diverse group of innovative vendors,” he wrote.

Aside from the company being more bullish about working with the U.S. military again, Google is also now in a much better place to meet the DOD’s security requirements, Kurian said.

“When the JEDI RFP was issued, Google Cloud was not in a position to bid,” he wrote. “First and foremost, our technologies were not ready to meet the various classification levels and other technical requirements necessary to compete. In addition, given the single-award nature of the contract, it was possible that there would be certain projects the DoD would pursue that were incompatible with Google’s AI Principles.”

But since then, Google has “matured our services to meet a number of government classification levels,” Kurian added.

The DOD has concluded market research on the JWCC procurement, and a request for proposals should be coming soon. Outside of Microsoft, Amazon and Google, Oracle and IBM are thought to be the other hyperscale cloud providers who could potentially contend for spots on the JWCC contract.

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Google Cloud, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), Thomas Kurian
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