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Amazon and Google Continue Cloud Arms Race With New Data Centers

September 30, 2016, 12:17 PM UTC
Courtesy of Google

When it comes to cloud data centers, more is clearly more. On Thursday, in a classic bit of counter-programming, Amazon Web Services said it will add another set of data centers near Paris next year. It already fields European facilities in Frankfurt and Dublin with another to come soon in the U.K.

That tidbit surfaced just as Google (GOOG), which is mounting an ambitious challenge to AWS and Microsoft Azure, said it is adding new cloud data centers in Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, Sao Paolo, Finland, and Frankfurt, along with another U.S. facility in Northern Virginia all slated to come on line next year.

This news came just days after Microsoft (MSFT) announced its own cloud data center expansion, by opening two previously announced German data center facilities in Magdeburg and Frankfurt.

These data center farms are packed with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of servers and storage gear that companies can rent to perform computing tasks and store data. Many companies are using these “public cloud” facilities to supplement or even replace their own data centers. AWS is the largest and oldest of the three major providers, and Microsoft Azure is seen as an up-and-coming No. 2.

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Google this week also rebranded its array of cloud services, including Google At Work applications and the foundational Google Platform, as “Google Cloud.”

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A couple of things are driving the data center build-out. First, putting data center operations closer to the actual customer speeds up performance. The longer the distance between those two points, the more latency or delay in operations.

Second, many countries, Germany and France included, want citizens’ data to stay local, with data sovereignty laws mandating that. Up until two years ago, a German company wanting to use AWS had to use its Dublin area or another facility outside of Germany, which would not pass muster with those laws.

Note: This story was updated to reflect that the Google data centers announced will be available next year.