Check out the optics- there is literally nothing more British than Scalextric – 60 years old this year – except perhaps mince on toast (weird meme that one). So Google today launched its London-based data center today. While not exactly a tightly held secret beforehand, the news was welcome. Google is making a significant and ongoing investment in the UK tech scene, with an enormous new “landscraper” in Kings Cross for 7000 employees, but until now it hasn’t had local hosting.
Google primarily pitched the performance advantages of the new data center in terms of reduced latency. UK-based financial services companies are certainly going to appreciate an 8ms vs 12ms latency compared to calling europe-west-1 in Brussels. Perhaps what matters more though, given the current uncertain geopolitical environment, is probably data sovereignty. The arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a big deal – it could make as big an impact on IT purchasing and auditing as Sarbanes-Oxley did, with it’s commitment to “state of the art” information security and governance. It will certainly change the game on breach notifications to customers, which will need to be made within 2 hours of discovery.
Google said the new London center would allow it to offer UK hosted GDPR compliant services. There is no turnkey customer option for GDPR however, and Tariq Shaukat, President, Customers at Google Cloud said he expected it to accelerate European cloud adoption.
All of the major cloud vendors are rushing to prove their European cloud bona fides, with new data centers opening at quite a clip in cities across the continent. Earlier this week at Microsoft announced an interactive GDPR assessment tool, and a tool for partners to use with clients to harden Microsoft environments. Amazon Web Services too has announced it will comply when the regulation goes into force in March 2018.
But back to Google: the landscraper will be its first building outside the US that it designed from the ground up. Google is no late arrival in London though. While other vendors played with pop-ups in the Shoreditch triangle Google was here first, with a long lease for Campus on Bonhill Street. It has hosted hundreds if not thousands of events for free for local communities, our diversity meetup Coedco.de for example.
Google has significant engineering resources in the city – Google Assistant is built here, as is the Arts and Culture app. Google has 170 Site Reliability Engineers here. What is an SRE? it’s the function that solidified and codified Google’s DevOps culture and processes.
Or as Benjamin Treynor, who joined us today, who started the program in 2003 says:
“SRE is what you get when you ask a software engineer to design an operations function”.
The SRE program, and it’s sibling Customer Reliability Engineering, are very important to Google as it seeks to encourage customers onto Google Cloud Platform, turning it’s engineering chops into a competitive advantage by being more approachable and collaborative.
Google engineers are encouraged to broaden their skills base by moving between product development, SRE and CRE roles. All of that is now potentially open to the UK’s deep bench of tech talent (no need to relocate to San Francisco). Google’s London SREs are currently working on a number of products, but primarily Compute Engine, App Engine, and Cloud Load Balancer. In bonus Google Cloud Platform news today, the absurdly cool Zeit just announced support for GCP – the fastest route to developer dopamine and production deployment since Heroku burst onto the scene. Just on command – now. I will be writing that up tomorrow.
AWS, GCP and Microsoft are all clients.