Google on the move
On September 12, 2017, Google opened its first data center in Frankfurt, Germany. This is Google's third data center in Europe, which clearly acknowledges again the fact that a globally active cloud computing company cannot survive with US data centers only. Local requirements with respect to data security and data privacy need to be met.
With this move, Google underlines its understanding that customers in different regions have different ideas of data security and privacy. By offering data center services compliant with German data security and privacy regulations, Google is about to turn a weakness into a strength. It is well understood that enterprises using the German Google data center with its high compliance standards would like to have the same compliance standards when they move outside of Germany, using Google data centers to offer their specific services to customers. Hence, Google finally accepts that the collaboration with its key enterprise customers is the right way into the future. After IBM in the early 2000s and Microsoft around 2010, Google has discovered the value of partnering and co-development, and the need for a strong ecosystem that goes far beyond sales partners for pushing its offerings into the market. Real collaboration requires a give and take, which yields benefits.
One example of such co-development is a joint project with SAP. SAP services will be available on the Google Cloud Platform (HCP) and will all comply with German data security and data privacy regulations. Google and SAP work closely together to help SAP bring its Data Custodian Platform to the market. This allows customers to define their data security and data privacy regulations for cloud deployments of SAP applications. A side note: SAP has been successfully living the co-development approach for decades. However, this is not the only far-reaching example of Google's new policy. It was recently announced that Walmart – the world's largest retailer – was going to offer its products using the Google Cloud Platform. Google is also making consultants available to the newly addressed enterprise customers. They are to train the customers' IT teams and co-develop feasibility studies and pilot projects with them in order to demonstrate the advantages of cloud deployments. At the same time, Google acknowledges the hybrid approach to future IT solutions. It is no longer focused on the cloud-only model, but knows that in a partnership the speed of change of its customers has to be taken into account. Critics may say that Google is copying the Amazon AWS market approach by sending consultants to potential customers. However, this has proven a success. Customers should make wide use of these potentially free-of-charge incubators in their own IT departments.
Bottom line: The world – in particular the IT world – has become too complex for one company and one approach to handle all issues. Vendors and enterprise customers are more and more dependent on each other; they need to learn from each other and collaborate in real partnerships. Google's establishment of a German data center complying with high-standard data security and privacy requirements and the first trusted relationship partnerships – e.g. with SAP and Walmart – reflect Google's willingness to really serve its customers.