ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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During war visit, Oracle CEO affirms commitment to open second data center in Israel

New data center will be built nine floors below ground level to withstand security threats and to ensure continued cloud operations and services, especially during a war period

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Oracle CEO Safra Catz (right) during a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, January 2024. (Courtesy)
Oracle CEO Safra Catz (right) during a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, January 2024. (Courtesy)

US tech giant Oracle is committed to “double” its investment in the country and open a second underground public cloud center, its CEO Safra Catz said during a visit to Israel.

“As our business grows, we increase our cloud activity in Israel,” Catz told The Times of Israel in emailed comments on Thursday. “We will soon open a second new data center in Israel.”

“Israel must have a secure cloud, so it will be nine floors underground, with the aim of not jeopardizing business survival,” said the Israeli-born businesswoman.

Back in October 2021, Oracle built an underground data center in Jerusalem at a cost of about NIS 1.2 billion ($319 million), and announced plans to set up a second site. The Jerusalem facility functions as a regional cloud provider for Israeli clients. The center spreads across an underground site of thousands of square meters, over four floors, and at a depth of 50 meters (160 feet) below ground level so it can withstand security threats, including rocket attacks.

The data center provides advanced cloud services to companies, organizations and ministries in a variety of sectors — defense, government, banks, insurance, infrastructure, technology and retail — and allows them to transfer servers and services into the cloud data centers provided locally. The new second data center is an expansion of the cloud services and is expected to be set up in the north of the country.

Last year, US tech giant Amazon announced plans to roll out its cloud-based regional data center project in the country. That’s after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, activated its local cloud region for Israel in 2022. Before that, Israel used cloud services outside the country’s borders provided by, for example, Google and Amazon Web Services data centers in Ireland, the Netherlands and Frankfurt.

Oracle CEO Safra Catz (left) meets with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, in January 2024. (Courtesy)

Catz’s visit to Israel comes as the country is more than 100 days into a war with the Hamas terror group following the October 7 onslaught, during which terrorists stormed into Israel and killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians. During her visit, Catz met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz.

“We are here to help the government, the military and the Israeli economy,” Catz said.

With Netanyahu, Catz talked about opportunities in the fields of artificial intelligence and cloud computing, and with Gallant how Oracle could provide security assistance to Israel. With Gantz, the tech industry senior executive discussed the military and political challenges Israel faces and how they can be tackled with the help of technological solutions.

Catz visited Kfar Aza with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, and met residents of the kibbutz who recounted the events of the October 7 massacres.

Since the outbreak of the war, Oracle, which has been active in Israel for more than 20 years, has made a donation of $1 million to Magen David Adom. The software maker launched a global fundraising campaign for Magen David Adom among its 150,000 employees around the world and has pledged to double the raised funds.

Oracle has about 400 employees in Israel at two R&D sites, in Petah Tikva and Beersheba, working on cutting-edge technologies including cloud, AI and other applications. Catz also paid a visit to the offices in Petah Tikva, to meet with employees. At the end of last year, Oracle joined other tech giants, including Nvidia and Intel, in granting all of its employees a one-time monthly salary to provide financial support during the war period.

“The State of Israel is not only the heroic soldiers I saw, but also the families and survivors from the Otef [Gaza envelope],” said Catz. “After my visit here I leave very optimistic.”

“The people here have incredible mental strength, and I believe that we will get through this war,” she added.

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