Google announced it is building a new cloud region in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich will be its sixth cloud region in Europe and twentieth cloud region overall.
The big 3 cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) each spend billions annually on data center capex in a race to get the highest global cloud coverage. Europe has been a focus due to a few factors discussed below.
Switzerland is not part of the European Union and has different privacy regulations – fans of action movies know Swiss bank accounts offer a certain level of discretion, for example. Similar privacy law extends to cloud, making it an enticing region for customers beyond those that are local. Google’s messaging so far is around serving local businesses, but we suspect the global appeal is playing a part.
Microsoft announced plans for a Swiss Azure cloud region a few months prior to Google. AWS has an office there, but no region yet.
The new Swiss region will eventually consist of three separate zones and is expected to open early next year (2019). Google’s existing European cloud regions are in London, Frankfurt, the Netherlands, and Belgium, with Finland set to launch this year.
The big European cloud push is driven by three factors:
- Europe has always been a collection of distinct, separate cultures and countries, necessitating serving customers within borders. This became doubly true following Brexit, as serving the entire continent from one or even two regions became unfeasible. Cloud adoption is slow comparable to North America in part because customers needed to be served locally.
- Privacy concerns in general are at an all-time high. Country regulators and lawmakers barely understand the Internet, let alone the complex privacy issues that should be guiding policy. Its hard enough to trust your own local lawmakers, let alone another country’s.
- Edge. Of Course. Even taking privacy completely out of the equation, the push to serve population centers in as close a proximity as possible is birthing cloud regions.
Google opened its Netherlands region a few months ago; its fourth region in Europe. Switzerland is kind of like the Netherlands, in that its appeal as a neutral place to set up shop goes beyond borders. Netherlands is a popular landing spot for companies looking to enter Europe for the first time.
Google also recently launched its first Canada region – another country known as being fair and neutral on the global front.