Defense firm Thales and Google are teaming up to offer state-controlled cloud computing services for the storage of some of France’s most sensitive data, the companies said on Wednesday.
The alliance between Thales, the leading European supplier of defense electronics, and the Alphabet unit responds to a government plan in May according to which France recognized American technological superiority in the field. The French government then said cloud computing services developed by Google and Microsoft could be used to store France’s most sensitive state and corporate data, provided the services are licensed to French companies. .
In their joint statement, Thales and Google Cloud announced that they would create a company based in France and that Thales would be the majority shareholder. This company will provide the full range of Google Cloud services, but its network and servers would be separate from those used for regular Google customers.
“The company will be running Google software on its infrastructure … with layers of security to ensure cybersecurity and data protection against extraterritorial rules,” said Marc Darmon, head of secure communications and information systems at Thales. Google and Microsoft, along with market leader Amazon.com’s Amazon Web Services, dominate cloud storage worldwide, fueling concerns in Europe about the risk of US oversight following the adoption of the US CLOUD Act of 2018.
The Thales-Google partnership will need the blessing of the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI to obtain a “trusted cloud” label. However, its leader, Guillaume Poupard, has already praised the project, saying in a press release that it meets the necessary criteria for certification.
The company is expected to be created in the first half of 2022 and be operational in early 2023, the two groups said. It would compete with Bleu, a joint venture created by IT consultancy firm Capgemini and telecoms group Orange and which aims to use Microsoft’s cloud technology.
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