As Google Cloud reaches a $4 billion annual run rate, the company is expanding its data center reach globally, unveiling plans this week to launch three data centers in Zurich, Switzerland.
"We're announcing a Google Cloud Platform (GCP) region in Zurich to make it easier for businesses to build highly available, performant applications," said Urs Holzle, senior vice president of Technical Infrastructure at Google, in a recent blog post. "Zurich will be our sixth region in Europe, joining our future region in Finland, and existing regions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Overall, the Swiss region brings the total number of existing and announced [Google Cloud Platform data center] regions around the world to 20 -- with more to come."
The three new facilities in the region are expected to be operational by early 2019, according to Holzle.
Google early this year opened its first Cloud Platform data center in Montreal, as well as a new facility in the Netherlands. The facilities in Finland are projected to open later this year along with new centers in Los Angeles, Calif. The company recently spent roughly $180 million in an expansion project to revamp Google's data center in Ireland.
In 2017, Google opened new centers in Germany and Brazil. Google typically launches three facilities in a region and currently has 46 operational data centers around the world.
"Artificial intelligence is becoming the big competitive differentiator for companies. What Google is understanding is that not all analytics and AI should be done in a centralized cloud," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. "For example, for a self-driving car in China, I don’t want to back-haul all my information to San Jose, analyze it, and bring it back in the car. So Google is expanding to all these data centers to move content closer to the users."
Kerravala said there's "significant advantages" Google can provide by having data closer to end users such as improving application performance and cloud services while also saving on bandwidth costs.
"I've talked to lots of companies that have booked a cloud service and had to go back to private data centers because the network costs were too high and the performance was too poor because they were taking data that's in London, for example, and passing it all the way over to San Jose before they can do anything with it," said Kerravala. "[Google Cloud] is making smart, strategic investments in these data centers."