|From Google Cloud Platform in Action by J.J. Geewax
This article explores Google Cloud Platform data center locations and how to choose which data center (and cloud service provider) is right for you and your customers in terms of geographic location.
Data center locations
You might think that “location” in the world of “the cloud” seems a bit oxymoronic, right? Unfortunately, this is one of the side-effects of marketers pushing “the cloud” as some amorphic mystery, where all of your resources are multi-homed rather than living in a single place. Some services abstract away the idea of “location” to allow your resources to live in multiple places simultaneously, but for many services (such as Compute Engine) resources live in a single place. This means that you’ll likely want to choose one nearby to your customers.
To choose the right place, you first need to look at the choices; let’s get right to it. As of this writing, Google Cloud operates data centers in four different regions around the world: two in the United States, one in Europe, and one in Asia.
Figure 1. Cities where Google Cloud has data centers, and how many in each.
This might not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that each city has many different data centers to choose from. By this measure, there are thirteen different physical places where your resources can exist.
Table 1. Zone overview for Google Cloud
How does this stack up to other cloud providers, as well as traditional hosting providers? Let’s take a look:
Table 2. Data center offerings by provider
Looking at these numbers, it seems that Google Cloud brings up the rear compared to the other cloud service providers. That said, there are typically two reasons why you might choose a provider based on data center locations offered, and both are focused on network latency:
- You need ultra-low latency between your servers and your customers. An example is high-frequency trading where you typically need to host services only microseconds away from a stock exchange, because responding even one millisecond slower than your competitors means you could lose out on a trade.
- You have customers who are far from the nearest data center. A common example is businesses in Australia (where neither Google nor Digital Ocean offer data center locations), and the nearest options (Taiwan or Singapore, respectively) are still far away. This means that even something as simple as loading a web page from Australia can be frustratingly slow.
If your requirements are less strict, the location of data centers shouldn’t make too much of a difference in choosing a cloud provider, but it’s still important to understand your latency requirements and what geographical location means for that.