Is Google laying a marker with new DOD cloud pact?

Google is making renewed headway into Defense Department business that the global tech giant arguably had somewhat turned its back on amid employee backlash over working with the U.S. military.

In a release Wednesday, Google said its cloud division has secured a contract of undisclosed terms with DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit to provide a centralized control system based in a cloud environment for detecting, protecting and responding to cyber threats.

Built on Google’s Anthos platform, the system is intended to help DIU run its services and applications on across not just the Google Cloud infrastructure but also Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Axios, which first reported the story, said the award is in the “seven figures” as Google hopes that win leads to bigger cloud contracts with DOD going forward.

On the surface, this pact appears to show a renewed push by Google for more of a defense contracting footprint one year after the company exited its partnership with DOD on Project Maven.

Project Maven used Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to analyze drone footage. Various media outlets have reported that Palantir stepped in to take the role Google formerly held.

Google employees protested that involvement in Project Maven and claimed the project conflicted with the company’s AI principles. Google also decided not to pursue DOD’s high-profile JEDI cloud infrastructure contract that Microsoft won but is now awaiting the outcome of AWS’ protest in court before proceeding further on that project.

Against that backdrop, Amazon and Microsoft publicly embraced their U.S. government work and particularly that with the military. So has Palantir, which has even somewhat touted the size of its government contracts inventory albeit cryptically.

One other key detail from Axios’ report to keep in mind going forward: Google wants to triple the size of its public sector staff over the next few years. Of course, Google will need to hire more people to support that book of government business if and as it grows.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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