Google Cloud Platform launches London region to reduce latency for customers

The facility will both boost performance and help UK businesses with comply with data regulation


Google Cloud Platform (GCP) launched a new region in London today where customers can run their applications and store data.

The region is the company's tenth worldwide and second in Europe. Google's performance testing showed reductions in round-trip time latency in cities such as London, Dublin, and Amsterdam of 40-82 percent for customers in London compared to those in its original European data centres in Belgium.

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The facility will also help businesses fulfil legal and regulatory requirements by providing a place to store their data in post-Brexit Britain.

The London location was chosen due to Google's customers' demand. It took three years for the company to built the facility.

"The main reason for actually having a cloud region here is performance," Google Cloud Vice President of Engineering Ben Traynor told Computerworld UK.

"The latency from on-premise sites here in London to the London cloud region is 8 milliseconds, whereas the latency to our existing cloud region in Belgium in 15 milliseconds."

Those milliseconds matter when running applications in a hybrid mode combining on premise and cloud, where different parts of the application stack could have to make 100 round trips back and forth between them. This can be the difference between a user response that takes half a second and a user response that takes a second, and people do notice that, especially in industries that are latency-sensitive like media or advertising or finance."

"This can be the difference between a user response that takes half a second and a user response that takes a second, and people do notice that, especially in industries that are latency-sensitive like media or advertising or finance," explained Traynor.

GCP and UK tech sector's global ambitions

Customers will be able to choose to run their apps and store data in any of the Google's global regions centres depending on where their end users are and where their existing infrastructure is.

Google is currently ranked behind both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure for its global cloud infrastructure according to industry analyst Garter, but the tech giant is making a concerted effort to catch up on its rivals

It plans to open more European regions in Frankfurt, the Netherlands and Finland in the near future.

"My general take is that having choice for customers is a very good thing," said Traynor. "If I look at the cloud offerings that are out there today, each of them has some things to offer to the customers that the others don't.

"For example, Google has very very strong offerings in performance, we have very strong offerings in networking, we have very strong offerings - without bias I can say unmatched - in both data analytics, data processing and AI, and different customers will rationally make different choices, that's more or less what we're seeing. And then we're seeing all of us competing with us robustly, which is frankly good for the technology." 

The rivalry of these competing cloud services may be driving their development, but the compatibility is another way that customers can benefit such as The Telegraph are benefiting from their services.

"Predominantly we use G-Cloud for the services and we tend to use Amazon for infrastructure," said Telegraph CTO Toby Wright. "We tend to use the best thing for the job and both of those public clouds are flexible enough to allow you to do that.

The improved latency will help his company with issues such as advertising loading and third party component performance by letting them rapidly detect and fix issues in real-time.

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the launch was evidence of the private sector's belief in London's ability to remain a leading global tech hub after Brexit.

"Google's decision to choose London for its latest Google Cloud Region is another vote of confidence in our world-leading digital economy and proof Britain is open for business," she said. 

"It's great, but not surprising, to hear they've picked the UK because of the huge demand for this type of service from the nation's firms.

"Earlier this week the Digital Evolution Index named us among the most innovative digital countries in the world and there has been a record £5.6bn investment in tech in London in the past six months."

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