Top tech companies are launching a bidding war for a massive Pentagon cloud contract, even as their workforces are pressing them to refuse all military work.
In addition to the protests from employees, the bidding process for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract is bogged down by infighting between traditional defense contractors and the big tech companies that threaten to edge them out of a lucrative business opportunity—and the Department of Defense worries that all of the controversy distracts from its objective of obtaining the same basic cloud computing capabilities already available for consumers, which it says are necessary to better protect soldiers’ lives on the battlefield.
Although DoD says it’s too early to predict the ultimate value of the contract, JEDI is estimated to be worth about $10 billion. The contract will be awarded for a two-year period, with options to renew for five years and then three years after that. The price-tag makes the JEDI contract tempting for even the largest of tech firms. (Google, for instance, announced in February that its cloud business earned more than $1 billion per quarter, while Amazon Web Services nets over $5 billion each quarter.) The company that wins the contract will also have a foot in the door for future Pentagon work, as the DoD looks to rapidly expand its artificial intelligence capabilities.
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