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Google bets on partners to run their own sovereign Google Clouds

Data sovereignty and residency laws have become commonplace in recent years. The major clouds, however, were always set up to enable the free movement of data between their various locations, so over the course of the last few years, all of the hyperscalers started looking into how they could offer sovereign clouds that can guarantee that government data, for example, never left a given country. AWS announced its European Sovereign Cloud last October. The Microsoft Azure Cloud for Sovereignty became generally available in December.

Google Cloud’s approach has been a bit different. Back in 2021, Google Cloud partnered with T-Systems to offer a sovereign cloud for Germany. A few weeks ago, it also announced a new partnership with World Wide Technology (WWT) to offer sovereign cloud solutions for government customers in the U.S.

Now Google is renewing its focus on data sovereignty. For the time being, though, it looks like its emphasis is on partnerships, not building its own sovereign clouds.

Google Cloud’s hybrid and on-premises story has changed quite a bit over the last few years. From the Cloud Services Platform to Anthos, GKE On-Prem and likely a few others that time has long forgotten, Google Cloud has aimed to offer a solution for companies that want to use its services and tooling but because of regulations, security, cost or paranoia, don’t want their workloads and data to sit in the Google cloud. Google’s latest effort in this space is branded Google Distributed Cloud (GDC), a fully managed software and hardware solution that can either be connected to the Google Cloud or be completely air-gapped from the internet.

Of course, this wouldn’t be 2024 if Google didn’t put an emphasis on AI in all of these efforts, too.

“Today, customers are looking for entirely new ways to process and analyze data, discover hidden insights, increase productivity and build entirely new applications — all with AI at the core,” said Vithal Shirodkar, VP/GM, Google Distributed Cloud and Geo Expansion, Google Cloud, in Tuesday’s announcement. “However, data sovereignty, regulatory compliance, and low-latency requirements can present a dilemma for organizations eager to adopt AI in the cloud. The need to keep sensitive data in certain locations, adhere to strict regulations, and ensure swift responsiveness can make it difficult to capitalize on the cloud’s inherent advantages of innovation, scalability, and cost-efficiency.”

At Cloud Next, Google Cloud’s annual developer conference, GDC is getting a slew of updates, including new security features (in partnership with Palo Alto Networks), support for the Apigee API management service and more. Developers can also now use a GDC Sandbox in Google Cloud to build and test applications without the need to work with the physical hardware. What’s maybe just as important as these new features is that GDC is now ISO27001 and SOC2 compliant.

On the hardware side, Google Cloud is introducing new AI servers for GDC. These are powered by Nvidia’s L4 Tensor Core GPUs and are now available in addition to the existing GDC AI-optimized servers with the high-powered Nvidia H100 GPUs.

Another interesting aspect to the GDC digital sovereignty story is that Google Cloud is emphasizing its partners, T-Systems, WWT and Clarence, which can deliver sovereign GDC-powered clouds on behalf of their clients.

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