Google Cloud announces new partnerships, expanded global footprint

At the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, Google executives laid out how they plan to give customers what they want, where they want it.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

At the start of the Google Cloud Next conference on Tuesday, Google announced new and expanded partnerships with open source-centric businesses, as well as its continued expansion into new global markets. With these announcements, Google is sending the message that it has the resources and the partner ecosystem to meet its customers wherever they happen to be, using the technologies they want to use.

The keynote at Google Cloud Next from CEO Thomas Kurian outlined a strategy that revolved around multi-cloud, digital transformation as well as industry focus. 

Google Cloud is partnering with leading open source-centric companies in the area of data management and analytics because "we want GCP to be the best environment for building applications," Manvinder Singh, Google's head of infrastructure partnerships, told reporters last week.

If that means using MongoDB Atlas, for instance, "we're happy to support that," he said. In keeping with Google's tradition of supporting the open source community, "we believe in an approach that is collaborative, not combative," Singh said.

In addition to MongoDB, Google is forging key strategic relationships with Confluent, DataStax, Elastic, InfluxData, Neo4j and Redis Labs. The partnerships will offer fully-managed services running in the cloud, with best efforts made to optimize performance and latency between the service and application. Customers will get a unified user interface for app management, including the ability to provision and manage the service from the Google Cloud Console. They'll also get unified billing, with one invoice from Google Cloud that includes the partner's service. Google will also offer Cloud support for most of the partners.

Singh said the newly-announced partnerships make these offerings "a first-class service on our platform." 

Google Cloud already has partnerships with some of these businesses. Last year, for instance, Google and Confluent announced they would bring Confluent Cloud, a fully-managed streaming data service based on Apache Kafka, to Google Cloud. Meanwhile, Google has its own data management services that are comparable to those of its new partners -- such as Dataflow for building distributed data pipelines and Cloud Pub/Sub for stream analytics and event-driven computing systems.

However, tighter integration with open source-based offerings makes sense, given market trends.  According to SearchDataManagement.com, more than 70 percent of future applications developed by corporate users will run on an open source database management system.

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"We've been seeing quite a bit of growth of our customer base on Google Cloud Platform, so the combination makes total sense," Sahir Azam, SVP of cloud products for MongoDB, told ZDNet. Even though all the large cloud vendors have competing database technologies, MongoDB has been growing quickly -- its cloud product is growing at 400 percent year-over-year.

The enhanced partnership "allows customers to really have all the value of a major cloud platform but also the advantage of using best-of-breed technologies like ours," Azam said.

Google's cloud competitors are also acknowledging the popularity of open source-based tech. For instance, Confluent Cloud has also been available on AWS since November 2017 -- though Amazon also offers its own Kinesis service for collecting and processing large streams of data records in real time.

At the same time, Amazon in certain cases appears to be more of a competitor than a collaborator. AWS's DocumentDB, for instance, is a fully managed document database that takes direct aim at MongoDB.

Overall, Google is creating relatively stronger partnerships by taking steps like integrating third-party services into the Google Cloud Console, Azam said.

"They clearly see the value of deeper partnerships with some best-of-breed vendors like us and others in the market as a way to differentiate against other major cloud providers," he said.

Meanwhile, Google on Tuesday also announced new Google Cloud regions in Seoul, South Korea and Salt Lake City, Utah. With these additions, Google Cloud will have a total of 23 global regions by 2020.

From 2016 through 2018, Google has invested $47 billion to build out its global infrastructure, "meeting our customers wherever they happen to be," Dominic Preuss, a GCP director of product management, said to reporters.

Seoul will be Google Cloud's eighth region in Asia Pacific and will help serve both local
customers and multinational customers doing business in South Korea. The Salt Lake City region will be the sixth region within the continental US and the third in the United States West, along with Los Angeles and Oregon. Salt Lake City, Google said, is a hub for data center infrastructure and is known for its healthcare, financial services and IT industries.

Both the Seoul and Salt Lake City regions will include three zones from the start. 

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