When it comes to cloud computing, Google has long maintained that it has an edge: When a business customer uses Google Cloud, its software runs from the very same servers as Google itself, with the data traveling on Google’s privately-owned global computer networks.
Today, though, the search giant made a surprising change, as announced in a blog entry.
Now, if you want to save money, Google Cloud offers a “standard” tier that will let your software’s data travel on the same networks that everybody else uses. The existing, default option for keeping your data within the Google family, so to speak, becomes the “premium” tier (the price of the premium tier won’t change, there will just be a less expensive option now).
Google claims that the “standard” tier doesn’t offer bad performance, objectively speaking. It’s just that your business’s network traffic will be routed through commercial ISPs and their infrastructure – the exact same way that most web traffic reaches consumers, and the default way that the market-leading Amazon Web Services does it.
Google Product Manager Prajakta Joshi likens that premium tier to a “private jet” (though, she would note, not at private jet prices)- super fast, and great, for those who need it. But for a lot of people, it’s fine to just fly coach, or even drive, most of the time.
Google’s “premium” network, for example, includes a network of undersea Kevlar-wrapped cables starting on America’s West Coast and ending in Japan, with a top capacity of 60 terabytes per second. But not everybody needs that.
If you’re lucky enough to be near one of Google’s data centers, or you’re running an application that’s just not super-critical to your business, you might not be fully reaping the rewards of running on Google’s high-performance networks, so why not save money, Joshi told Business Insider.
“If you go further, you pay more, if you go closer, you pay less,” Joshi explains.
Google says that it’s not about pricing, either, although the company claims that the new tier has saved some early customers between 24% to 33% on their bill. While Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have long been engaged in the so-called “race to zero” in pricing, the search giant says this is more about customiziability.
“It’s not about cutting price, it’s not about price wars,” says Joshi. Instead, she says, the ability to “mix and match” between the faster and slower tiers to maximize cost efficiency will “differentiate us from the other options.”
Regardless, there’s definitely an ongoing price war between Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, which respectively claim the first, second, and third-place crowns in the cloud computing market. Giving customers a way to cut their bill is likely to turn some heads, giving Google a potential advantage going forward.