Google gets authorization to work with top-secret intelligence, defense data

Defense and intelligence agencies will now be able to use Google’s air-gapped cloud platform to process top-secret workloads.
Google Cloud at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit 2019

LAS VEGAS — Defense and intelligence agencies can now use Google’s air-gapped cloud platform, Google Distributed Cloud Hosted, to process top-secret workloads, the company announced Tuesday at its annual Google Cloud Next tech conference.

With the authorizations, agencies across the Department of Defense and the intelligence community can use Google Distributed Cloud Hosted — an air-gapped private cloud service tailored to workloads that demand maximized security requirements — to support some of their most sensitive data and applications. 

Google also announced that it received authorization to host data and applications at the secret level for intelligence community missions. 

“This authorization underscores Google Public Sector’s commitment to empowering government agencies with secure, cutting-edge technology,” Leigh Palmer, vice president of delivery and operations for Google Public Sector, wrote in a blog post previewed by FedScoop before the announcement. She referenced “personnel records, information around pending cyber threats, geospatial data used for maps, language translation in support of humanitarian efforts, and more” as examples of the types of data the cloud environment can now support.


Not to be confused with Google public cloud offerings, Google Distributed Cloud Hosted was developed to be isolated and doesn’t require connection to the internet or Google Cloud.

In addition to boosted security, the company touts Google Distributed Cloud Hosted’s integrated cloud services, notably Vertex AI, a platform that supports the development of generative AI applications with more than 130 pre-trained AI models and offers access to Gemini, Google’s own multimodal large-language model. 

Lastly, Palmer in the blog points to the openness at the foundation of the platform as a differentiator. “GDC Hosted is designed around Google Cloud’s open cloud strategy and uses leading open source components in its platform and managed services. This openness includes support for managed open source services operated by our partners that are tightly integrated into the platform, providing a seamless user experience across management, billing, and support,” she wrote. 

The announcement comes after Google in December 2022 achieved an IL-5 accreditation to work with DOD’s highly sensitive, mission-critical and national security data workloads. 

Some of Google’s top competitors — Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle — also reached top-secret accreditation in recent years. Notably, the four companies also hold spots on the premier cloud contracts in the DOD and IC, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability and Commercial Cloud Enterprise vehicles, respectively. 

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