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Thales partners with Google for secure French cloud service

Image credit: Reuters

French defence company Thales has partnered with Google to offer state-vetted cloud computing services for the storage of some of France's most sensitive data, the companies announced today.

The alliance between Thales, Europe's largest defence electronics supplier, and Alphabet's search unit Google fulfils a May government plan under which France acknowledged US technological superiority in the field.

The French government said then that cloud-computing services developed by Google and Microsoft could be used to store France's most sensitive state and corporate data, provided the services were licensed to French companies.

In their joint statement, Thales and Google Cloud said they will create a new France-based company – as yet unnamed (Thoogle, perhaps?) – in which Thales will be the majority shareholder.

That company will provide the whole range of Google Cloud's services, but its network and servers would be separate from those used for regular Google clients.

"The company is going to run Google software on its infrastructure with layers of security to ensure cyber security and protection of data from extra-territorial 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 (AWS), dominate cloud storage worldwide, fuelling concerns in Europe over the risk of surveillance by the US in the wake of the adoption of the US Cloud Act of 2018.

The Thales-Google partnership will need the blessing of France's cyber-security agency ANSSI (Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes d'Information) in order to get the requisite 'trusted cloud' label.

However, Guillaume Poupard, the head of ANSSI, has already welcomed the project, saying in a statement that it fulfilled the criteria necessary for the certification.

The new company should be created in early 2022 and be running by the start of 2023, the two groups said.

The new entity will have to compete against Bleu, a joint venture – also yet to be fully established – between IT consulting firm Capgemini and telecoms group Orange, which intends to use Microsoft's cloud technology.

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