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Google cloud platform heats up the cloud market in Asia

Google is set to inject more life into the Southeast Asian cloud market with new products and local datacentres

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Google is opening up the Southeast Asian market to its range of cloud products with a new product range and a datacentre in Singapore.

In early October, the internet giant announced Google Cloud products, technologies and services.

Google will build nine new datacentres by 2017, with four in Asia-Pacific (Apac), including Singapore. Currently, its only operational datacentre in Asia is in Taiwan. Organisations using cloud service often demand that software and data is locally stored.

According to Rick Harshman, managing director Apac at Google Cloud, businesses in Asia are embracing cloud computing in droves. “Ten years ago, the focus was on individual productivity,” he said, during a media briefing in Singapore in October.

“Over the next five years, all kinds of businesses will be transformed by smart data, analytics, machine learning and digital communications,” he added.

According to an official Google blog, Google Cloud has been “engineered in an enterprise appropriate way, with integrated systems that ensure service levels”.

Along with the launch of Google Cloud, the company also introduced a significant line-up of new cloud technologies and machine intelligence capabilities, as well as services that work with Google Cloud.

Harshman said Google is offering open cloud or a multi-cloud, with analytic and machine-learning capabilities.

To ramp up its cloud services, Google is hiring more than 1,000 staff globally on its customer team, and is investing around US$9.9bn into cloud and network infrastructure, said Harshman.

Growing demand for cloud computing services in Asean

As predicted by all analyst firms, demand for cloud computing services is on the rise in Asean. The cloud computing market in Singapore is expected to hit US$1bn by 2017, said Nikhil Batra, senior research manager of telecommunications at IDC Apac.

“The Asean region has always been slightly behind in adoption of new technologies, due to the skepticism around security and the slow evolution of regulations governing some aspects of these technologies,” said Batra.

“But the cloud adoption is growing at a great pace in Asean. Enterprises are moving to a hybrid cloud model where they want to use private and public cloud resources to achieve the maximum efficiency while optimising their operational costs.”

Crowded marketplace

Google is making an entry into an already crowded cloud market.

The marketplace includes the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), which leads the charge in the cloud space worldwide, with more than 75% of market share in 2015 in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) in public cloud services market.

It also involves Microsoft with its Azure platform, which experienced the highest growth of more than 90% in APeJ; Alibaba, which finished 2015 ranked third in the region; and Salesforce.com and SAP.

“Even though Google did manage to grow around 37% in 2015, it still had a low market share of about 2.5% in APeJ,” said Batra.

“However, with more enterprises getting comfortable with the idea of cloud and public cloud services, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 23% over the next 5 years. There’s a big opportunity for Google, as well as all the other cloud service providers.

“Google’s offerings might not be able to compete directly with Amazon’s infrastructure-as-a-service offering, but when coupled with the rest of Google’s ecosystem in apps, application programming interfaces, analytics and machine learning platforms, it could prove a worthy challenger to Amazon and other cloud services.

“But it will be a big challenge to break into a space that’s already dominated. It will require a lot of effort on Google’s part to come out with examples and stories to convince the enterprises of its advantages over its competitors.”

Nishchal Khorana, director of emerging technologies, cloud and datacentre – digital transformation Apac, at Frost & Sullivan, said: “Google’s focus on machine learning and security for the cloud platform, with a competitive pricing model, definitely creates a strong case for monetising emerging opportunities in the cloud space.”

The Asian century

Arun Sundar, chairman of the emerging technologies working group, at the Asia Cloud Computing Association, said it’s not too late for Google Cloud to come to Asia, as the Asian century has just begun. “The market potential of Asia is being realised and it is a good time for Google Cloud to focus on the continent.”

“The scale of Asia is perfectly poised to commoditise advanced technologies such as machine learning and Google-grade security and uptime. The entry of Google Cloud into the market is a testament to this and will further enhance the democratisation of these technologies for Asian enterprises, small to medium0sized enterprises and consumers alike.” 

Globally, companies such as Airbus, Home Depot, Snap Inc (formerly SnapChat), Evernote, Niantic Labs (Pokémon Go), Telus, Accenture and Pivotal use Google Cloud. In Singapore, Carousell, a popular online marketplace, moved to Google Cloud Platform four months ago.

“We shifted to Google Cloud because of better performance, flexibility, affordability and to be a part of a value-added ecosystem,” said Lucas Ngoo, chief technical officer and co-founder of Carousell.

“After we moved to Google Cloud, there has been a four-times improvement in latency and we have achieved 99.97% uptime, which is extremely important for us.”

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