Israel Picks Google, Amazon for Massive Official Cloud; 'Data Will Remain Here'

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Google to build data center in Israel for its cloud services
Google to build data center in Israel for its cloud services. The move would see massive investment in Israel's cloud infrastructure Credit: Connie Zhou / Google / AP

Google and Amazon have won the bid to set up and operate Israel’s Project Nimbus - a massive state tender that will see Israel build its own local cloud storage server centers at an investment of roughly 4 billion shekel. 

“Amazon (AWS) and Google were selected as the providers awarded the government’s cloud services,” the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday, announcing the result of the tender for Project Nimbus, a multiyear project to migrate Israel's public information technology to the cloud.

The government expects the shift of the entire Israeli state to a new local cloud to lead to increased foreign investments in Israel’s infrastructure and is hoping it will be a boon for the local tech industry. 

Amazon is currently in the midst of setting up three server farms in Israel as part of a local partnership it formed with Compass-Azrieli. Google is holding talks about joining with existing facilities.

Google and Amazon beat out Microsoft and Oracle who had either dropped out or were rejected over regulatory issues. 

“The cloud services will be hosted by local cloud providers. The data stored on them will remain within Israel’s borders under strict data security regulations overseen by the relevant government offices,” the Finance Ministry said. 

“Project Nimbus is our flagship multi-year plan and the first of its kind. The project is intended to provide the government, the defense establishment and others with an all encompassing cloud solution,” the ministry said, adding it “would require serious investment in infrastructure and advancing the Israeli ecosystem in terms of cloud technology. 

The tender also saw KPMG, an accounting firm, win the bid for the second facet of Project Nimbus: consulting and training as part of the so-called CCoE, or “Cloud Center of Excellence.” The bid for Nimbus’ third facet - helping all of the different government offices migrate to the new cloud - has yet to be awarded.

A recent job listing by Google suggested with the company was poised to win the bid as it said it was looking for Israelis with security clearance.

The recent disqualifications of rivals Oracle and Microsoft meant that Google and Amazon were the last big players still in the running to win the Israeli the tender. 

As Haaretz reported exclusively last week, Google is in advanced negotiations toward establishing a data center in Israel for its cloud computing services – a key condition of the Project Nimbus.

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