Tech companies can bid on the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract, starting today

On Thursday, the Pentagon opened bidding for a huge cloud computing contract that could be worth as much as $10 billion. Given its size, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, known as JEDI, is alluring for major cloud computing companies that might not normally do much business with the Department of Defense.

Announced in March, JEDI is structured as a winner-take-all contract with a potential 10-year term, though the Pentagon clarified that the original award will span just the first two years, so all 10 years aren’t set in stone up front.

While it’s not yet sparked the same level of outcry as Google’s AI contract with the Pentagon known as Project Maven, JEDI isn’t uncontroversial. The now infamous Project Maven was a smaller, more specific contract with direct implications for the military’s use of drones, while JEDI is broader and bigger, seeking a vendor to provide cloud services for all branches of the military. Google has since abandoned plans to renew the contract, but Maven was likely a kind of test run for the company in the lead-up to JEDI.

While Amazon is largely regarded as the most likely winner, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle are also among the major tech companies expected to throw their hats into the ring. Earlier in the process, it looked possible that companies could band together to form unlikely alliances against the perceived frontrunner, though it appears in the final request for proposal that the Pentagon plans to award the contract to a single company capable of handling it. Interested parties will have until September 17 to submit proposals, so in the months to come we can certainly expect to hear more from companies in the running and workers who oppose JEDI involvement.