Google outlines Asia cloud plans with four upcoming regions

Singapore, Sydney, Mumbai, and Tokyo will be added as new Google Cloud regions over the next year, as it looks to ramp up its rollout in Asia where it is seeing "triple-digit" growth rates.

Google has confirmed plans to introduce four new cloud regions in Asia, where it is seeing rapid enterprise cloud adoption and aiming to differentiate itself through its pricing structure and granular offerings.

Tokyo will be added as a Google Cloud region later this year, supported by three data centres, while Singapore, Mumbai, and Sydney will join the network next year. The cloud vendor currently operates two data centres in Singapore.

Cloud regions provide storage and services for Google Cloud Platform customers, while its data centres process requests for its cloud services including Gmail and Google Docs. Cloud regions support enterprise customers and are added based on the level of demand from its Cloud Platform clients for lower latency, higher speeds, and to store data locally.

Currently, Taiwan is the only active Google Cloud region in Asia. There also is only one Europe cloud region, located in Belgium, and three in the US. Apart from the four planned for Asia, the vendor will be adding three more regions in Europe and two in the Americas.

According to Rick Harshman, Google's Asia-Pacific managing director for cloud, the vendor was seeing accelerated growth in this region, clocking "well over triple-digit" year-old-year growth rates. He declined, however, to provide figures on how many Google Cloud customers were from Asia-Pacific or how much the region was contributing to the company's overall cloud revenue.

In an interview with ZDNet, Harshman explained that Google did not break down its revenue by geographies, but did note that it had 2 million paid customers worldwide on G Suite. The Google Cloud Platform also currently served more than 1 billion end-users.

Citing research from IDC, he pointed to strong cloud demand in markets such as Singapore, which was projected to be one of the largest in Southeast Asia, driving cloud revenue of US$1 billion in 2017. The city-state serves as Google's Asia-Pacific headquarters.

In a market that already had viable players such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google would be looking to differentiate based on a pricing structure Harshman said provided more flexibility.

He noted that most cloud players in the markets would provide greater discounts only if customers committed to a year-long or three-year contracts, which locked them into a specific vendor.

In comparison, Google provided sustained usage discounts where customers that ran workloads continuously on its platform would automatically discounts of up to 35 percent over the normal running price, he said. Discounts would be triggered from the seventh day of sustained usage, he added.

And while its competitors offered per-hour billing, Google provided per-minute billing, he said, noting that customers also would be able to create custom virtual machines (VMs) and be charged based on the customised configuration.

He said this billing model could slash the cost of running customised VMs by 19 percent, compared to standardised VMs, and added that customers preferred more granularity in the services they purchased.

Whether Google would add new cloud regions to its network would depend on customer demand, said Harshman, but its plans to expand from just five globally to 17 over the next year was an indication of its commitment in this space.

In addition, the vendor was looking to add more than 1,000 new hires to its cloud customer teams globally, he added.

Asked if Google had plans to re-enter the Chinese market, he noted that many customers operating within and outside of China had been asking the same question. For now, the vendor was assessing all options on how it should approach the market and would reveal more details when it was ready to do so, said Harshman, who had joined Google's cloud unit six months ago after spending almost seven years at AWS, where he helped set up its Singapore team.

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