It’s Official: Google to Open Cloud Center in Israel

After winning Project Nimbus tender to operate Israel’s official state cloud, Google Cloud announces local project, valued at billions of shekels

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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 officially announced Wednesday morning it would set up local cloud infrastructure in Israel.

The news comes a week after Google alongside Amazon won the bid for Project Nimbus - Israel’s massive new official state cloud service. 

In a short statement to the media, Boaz Maoz, who heads Google Cloud in Israel, said that “

When it launches, the Israel region will deliver a comprehensive portfolio of Google Cloud products to private and public sector organizations locally. We look forward to welcoming you to the Israel region, and we’re excited to support your growing business on our platform.”

Project Nimbus will see all of Israel’s state offices - including the defense establishment - move to an official Israeli cloud. One of the project’s conditions is that the data centers hosting the cloud be on Israeli soil. 

When Google and Amazon were tapped for the project, it was unclear if Google would set up its own server farms in Israel, or would rather cooperate with local ones already active.

Wednesday’s announcement means Google has yet to decide to build its own center and may still opt to work with a local one. No timeline was provided, however either way the decision will see the company invest large sums into local cloud infrastructure - estimated in the billions of shekels - in a process that may take a few years. 

Amazon is expected to make a similar announcement soon as it too won the tender for Project Nimbus, which requires a local server farm. 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 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 when announcing that Google and Amazon won the bid. 

“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 four phases of the project include acquisition and construction of cloud infrastructure, formulating government policy for migrating to the cloud, integration and migration, and control and optimisation of cloud activity.

Once completed, the local Google cloud is expected to improve cloud services for the local startup industry which the state believes will benefit substantially from the move. 

With its move to Israel, Google Cloud will now be operating in over 26 locations across the world. Google is the third tech giant to enter the local cloud market. Oracle was the first with a new center in Jerusalem to be opened this summer. Microsoft will also open one with the start of 2021. 

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