Google is now authorized to host classified data in the cloud

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The security milestone puts Google in a position to compete for classified business at DOD and U.S. intelligence agencies.

Google Public Sector achieved a major milestone Tuesday for its U.S. government customers, announcing Defense Department authorization for its cloud platform to host secret and top secret classified data.

The accreditation instantly makes Google’s cloud offering more competitive with rivals Amazon Web ServicesMicrosoft and Oracle as they vie for billions of dollars’ worth of business within the Defense Department and intelligence agencies.

“We're thrilled to announce another significant milestone for Google Public Sector: the authorization of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted to host Top Secret and Secret missions for the U.S. Intelligence Community, and Top Secret missions for the Department of Defense,” Leigh Palmer, the company’s vice president of delivery and operations said at Google Cloud Next conference in Las Vegas. “This authorization underscores Google Public Sector's commitment to empowering government agencies with secure, cutting-edge technology.”

Google Distributed Cloud is the company’s air-gapped solution built to meet the U.S. government’s most stringent security standards. The suite of accredited tools includes capabilities like compute and storage, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence and does not need to be connected to the public internet to function.

According to Palmer, Google developed its air-gapped cloud “with a security-first approach, leveraging zero trust principles, Google best practices and the latest federal guidelines in application and hardware security, cryptography and cybersecurity.

The accreditation represents the culmination of a pivot back to defense work for Google, which in 2018 opted not to continue controversial AI work it was doing under a Pentagon program called Project Maven in part over employee concerns. In 2022, the tech giant formed a new division, Google Public Sector, in part to target a growing government market that spends more than $100 billion on technology each year.  

The Defense Department and intelligence agencies represent a significant portion of that spending, and the ability to host secret and top secret government data now allows Google Public Sector to compete for task orders against Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Oracle on two multi-billion dollar contracts: The Central Intelligence Agency’s C2E contract and the Pentagon’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract. 

Even before the accreditation, Google Public Sector performed work for the Army, Defense Innovation Unit and Air Force.

“Google Cloud is committed to being a trusted partner and enabling public sector agencies to achieve their goals with the highest levels of security and innovation,” Palmer said.