Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Last week, Google announced that it will expand its cloud infrastructure by introducing five new regions and unveiled plans to build three undersea cables in 2019. According to the company, these investments will boost its status as the world's leading network provider. Google says that it already carries 25 percent of the world's Internet traffic.
Google organises its cloud computing resources into regions, subdividing them into zones, which include one or more data centres. Customers then run their services from these data centres. Google currently has 15 regions, made up of 44 zones, and will launch regions in the Netherlands and Montreal in the first quarter of 2018, followed by Los Angeles, Finland and Hong Kong.
In 2019, Google will commission three undersea cables. One of them is Curie, a private cable connecting Chile to Los Angeles. Google says that Curie will enable it to become the "first major non-telecom company" to build a private intercontinental cable. Once deployed, it will be Chile's largest single-data pipe and serve Google users and customers all over Latin America.
Google is also working with Facebook, Aqua Comms and Bulk Infrastructure to build a direct submarine cable system connecting the US to Denmark and Ireland. This network, called Havfrue — Danish for mermaid —, is expected to go online by the end of 2019.
For its third new submarine network, the Hong Kong-Guam Cable system, Google is teaming up with RTI-C and NEC. This will offer customers improved capacity and latency from Australia to major hubs in Asia, by establishing data centres that reside locally.
With these projects, Google will have direct investment in a total of 11 undersea cables. The company also leases capacity on several others.
These efforts are a positive reflection on Google's cloud business. The company needs this build-out to deliver the quality of service its customers demand. In the past three years, the company has spent close to $30 billion beefing up its infrastructure in a bid to speed up its cloud offerings. In the rapidly commoditising market for infrastructure as a service, Google's network quality and investment stand out as a clear differentiator. In this respect, the company is also unique against its cloud rivals, given the wide penetration of its Internet services which its network underpins.
In the broader geopolitical context, countries are increasingly placing restrictions requiring that data about residents of a particular country be stored within its national borders. Together with rapid expansion of the overall capacity, this is an important factor driving investment from cloud providers in local data centres, as well as in the network that links them together.
For Google, having undersea and regional advantages in network capacity will naturally serve its consumer services well. This will also be an important distinguishing factor to win enterprise customers moving to the cloud and evaluating next-generation applications on the Google Cloud Platform as well.