Google is building a 'next-generation' cloud for Germany

Google and T-Systems will try to offer a version of Google Cloud Platform on European terms.

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Google is teaming up with T-Systems to build a 'Sovereign Cloud' for public and private sector organizations in Germany. It's coming online in mid-2022, says Google. 

Google is working with the German IT services firm to deliver a jointly run Sovereign Cloud on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with key controls operated by T-Systems. "The companies will jointly innovate to develop a large spectrum of next-generation sovereign cloud solutions and infrastructure," T-Systems said.

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T-Systems, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, will manage "sovereignty controls and measures, including encryption and identity management" on GCP, according to Google. 

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"T-Systems will operate and independently control key parts of the Google Cloud infrastructure for T-Systems Sovereign Cloud customers in Germany," says Google.

Support and engineering activities that require physical or virtual access to facilities in Germany will be under the supervision of T-Systems and Google Cloud, according to T-Systems.

The joint offering may help customers comply with laws such as the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

Some experts have raised concerns about sensitive European data being held in cloud data centers owned by US copmanies because of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD), under which US authorities are allowed to require US providers to give them access to information held on their servers, even if that data is located overseas. 

Google only two weeks ago unveiled plans to spend €1bn on cloud infrastructure over 10 years in Germany, and announced a new Google Cloud region in Berlin-Brandenburg, and the soon-to-be completed expansion of its cloud region in Frankfurt that will go live in 2022. 

"We're committed to helping enable Germany's digital transformation," said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud in a press release. 

"Data privacy, security and control are vital to European and German organizations as they digitize their operations. The sovereign cloud solution we are partnering with T-Systems to create will provide public and private sector organizations with an additional layer of technical and operational measures and controls that ensure German customers can meet their data, operational, and software sovereignty requirements," he added.

If a cloud giant partnering with T-Systems for a secure cloud offering seems familiar, it's because Microsoft in 2016 tried something similar via two data centers with T-Systems, where it offered Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics CRM Online. Microsoft employees could access the data centers but only after it is granted by the "data trustee", T-Systems. 

However, via Fortune, there were reports that the German-only cloud was more expensive and lagged features available in the normal Azure offering. Microsoft ditched that arrangement in 2018

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More recently, Microsoft vowed to store and process most of its data within the EU by the end of 2022

These changes are happening while the EU's key DPAs are investigating GDPR compliance of local organizations and how they use cloud services from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Office 365 Azure.  

On top of all this, the EU is trying to establish 'digital sovereignty' through the GAIA-X cloud initiative. However, progress has been slow and it's not clear members are fully behind it.