Amazon cloud service said mulling regional data center in Israel

US tech giant’s AWS eyeing participation in tender for public cloud platform for government ministries and other bodies, possibly in southern town of Yeruham; declines to comment

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Amazon Web Services advertisement on an underground platform at a New York City subway station (krblokhin; iStock by Getty Images)
Amazon Web Services advertisement on an underground platform at a New York City subway station (krblokhin; iStock by Getty Images)

US tech giant Amazon is in talks with Israeli officials to set up a public cloud-based regional data center, possibly in the south of Israel, to provide cloud-based services to government ministries and other public entities in Israel.

In September, the Finance Ministry and the Government Procurement Administration issued a statement saying they intended to issue a tender in 2019-2020 for the supply of services based on a public cloud platform — one that services multiple organizations. The regional data center would be set up to provide cloud services to government ministries and other public entities, the statement said.

To provide such services, the provider will need to set up an Israel-region data center that “will meet the security, durability and operational continuity requirements” of the nation, according to the ministry.

The conditions of the tender will be included in the tender document, the statement said.

The cloud-based data center region is meant to give these institutions improved access to servers, storage, databases and application services.

Yerucham mayor Tal Ohana (Courtesy)

Amazon officials have expressed an interest in taking part in the tender and setting up the data center. They told Yeruham Mayor Tal Ohana that should they win the tender they see no reason not to set it up in the southern town of Yeruham, she told The Times of Israel.

“We are looking to set up a data center with them,” Ohana said. She had met with Yaron Altshuler, Israel Country Lead, Amazon Web Services Public Sector to discuss the matter, she added.

Ohana later clarified that Amazon has not yet made a decision to take part in the tender.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement: “The Israeli Government Procurement Administration is in the process of exploring and learning the government needs for cloud services as part of preparations for the publication of a government tender for the purchase of cloud services. The platform is expected to be used by government ministries and other public entities. At this stage, the biggest suppliers in this field have expressed interest in the tender.”

The ministry declined to reveal the name of possible contenders, but Microsoft, Google, Oracle, IBM and AWS are among the world’s largest suppliers of public cloud services. Microsoft in June said its first data center regions in the Middle East — in Abu Dhabi and Dubai — are now online.

AWS told The Times of Israel it does not comment “on speculation and rumors.”

An illustrative image of a data center; server farm (cybrain; iStock by Getty Images)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure is based around regions. A region is a physical location in the world where the firm sets up one or more data centers, offering multiple availability zones. Each availability zone has at least one data center.

AWS has set up 21 geographic data regions in the world, including in the US, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific. This is to ensure that it has a global presence as more and more public and private entities move their information to the cloud. The regions allow Amazon’s customers to be served across the world, giving them improved access to servers, storage, databases, networking and connectivity. Each AWS region has full connectivity to the Amazon global cloud network.

In November the US tech giant said it would launch a new AWS Infrastructure cloud computing center in Italy’s Milan by 2020, its sixth in Europe. The center would serve startups, governments and educational institutions, giving them improved access to servers, storage, databases and application services. Additional regions that will be opened soon by AWS include Bahrain, Cape Town, and Jakarta, the company says on its website.

Separately, Calcalist said that Amazon is planning to start its Israel based e-commerce operations in September and has asked local suppliers to be ready by the end of August for the launch of operations.

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