Google goes for verticals, scale in APAC cloud push

Cloud vendor has identified health and life sciences as well as retail amongst key growth sectors and is looking to triple its headcount in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 18 months.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

With the cloud market heating up in Asia-Pacific, Google is looking to win customers by focusing on key verticals and developing services specifically for these sectors. The US tech giant also is looking to further expand its datacentre footprint as well as grow its headcount in the region, where it aims to triple its workforce. 

Google currently operates seven cloud regions in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Mumbai, Tokyo, and Sydney, and will be adding Jakarta and Seoul to the list within the next year. Globally, it runs 20 cloud regions. 

It sees Indonesia, Singapore, and India amongst its growth markets in Asia, where there also is a growing community of unicorns and digital natives. And these startups will turn increasingly to the cloud as they scale their business, according to Robert Enslin, Google Cloud's president of global customer operations. 

"We see significant opportunities here," he said in an interview with ZDNet, noting that Google would be tripling its headcount in the region over the next 18 months to tap this growth. Enslin declined to reveal the actual number, but said the vendor's cloud business currently has a team of 25,000 worldwide, including 20,000 engineers. 

Amongst its recent customer wins is Indonesian e-commerce operator, Bukalapak, which has more than 50 million users and processes more than 500,000 transactions a day.

According to Enslin, the Asian online marketplace currently runs its operations entirely on-premise, but had suffered several high-profile service disruptions during peak shopping seasons. Bukalapak opted for Google Cloud following an assessment that included AWS and Alibaba, he said, adding that the vendor's Jakarta cloud region was scheduled to launch in the first half of next year. 

He noted that startups today founded their companies based on technology, whether they were in the games or property market, and recognised the benefits of using technology to drive their business. Cloud enabled them to take their ideas and build companies from the ground up, he added.

Many organisations, including traditional companies, also understood the need to innovate and were keen to run data analytics and machine learning to establish a differentiator for themselves. This had pushed Google to focus on key verticals, including government, health and life sciences, financial services, retail, and manufacturing, and build applications specific to these industries, Enslin said. 

With its competitors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) touting their wide services portfolio and Alibaba pitching its Asian heritage as their differentiator, he pointed to the need for "quality" in the provision of cloud services and Google's ability to innovate.

"We want to differentiate by utilising our knowledge of embracing mass amounts of information and processing that at a speed and scale that no one else does, and put AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) on top of it," he said. "It's [about] building applications sets and building intelligence where it's needed."

He acknowledged that Alibaba and other local cloud players often would be amongst the names of competitors mentioned by potential clients in Asia, or AWS and Microsoft in the US and Europe, but noted that customers, increasingly, would want the ability to run services from multiple cloud providers. 

This, he added, underscored the importance of Google's Anthos platform--unveiled in April--which enabled enterprises to centrally manage their applications on-premise and across multiple cloud environments, including AWS and Microsoft Azure. 

Google in the past month was hit by two major incidents that led to service outages and latency issues for its customers, including one this week that it said was due to physical damage to its fibre network serving its us-east1 data centre in South Carolina, US. A previous service disruption on June 2 was the result of a configuration error that affected several of its platforms including Gmail and YouTube. 


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