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Google steals a march on rivals and regulators by axing data transfer fees

Internet giant Google has decided to get rid of onerous fees charged when people leave its cloud services, but will its rivals follow suit?

Scott Bicheno

January 12, 2024

2 Min Read
source: google

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Google is both struggling to gain ground on its public cloud rivals – AWS and Microsoft Azure – and facing increasing regulatory pressure. So it has decided to go for broke and play the corporate beneficence card by removing data transfer fees for anyone looking to move away from Google Cloud.

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“At Google Cloud, we work to support a thriving cloud ecosystem that is open, secure, and interoperable,” blogged Amit Zavery, Head of Platform at Google Cloud. “Starting today, Google Cloud customers who wish to stop using Google Cloud and migrate their data to another cloud provider and/or on premises, can take advantage of free network data transfer to migrate their data out of Google Cloud.

Zavery goes on to lament the “restrictive and unfair licensing practices” that are the real reason it’s difficult to switch public cloud provider. “Certain legacy providers leverage their on-premises software monopolies to create cloud monopolies, using restrictive licensing practices that lock in customers and warp competition,” he said, apparently referring to Microsoft. He goes on to list a litany of dirty business tricks used by these monopolists to force people into using only them for cloud services.

And Google should know a monopolist when it sees one. A jury recently concluded Google operates an app store monopoly, while a European court this week insisted Google can’t wriggle out of a massive fine imposed on it for favouring its own shopping price comparison service in Google search. The EU is also considering splitting up Google’s advertising operations and then there are the various Big Tech probes underway, most aggressively in the US.

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe into the public cloud market in which one of the key items was data transfer fees. Another was a specific enquiry into the kinds of practices from Microsoft alluded to above. Google is doing especially badly in the UK cloud market so it’s easy to interpret this as a strategic move made primarily with the CMA probe in mind.

Of course Google couldn’t just come out and say that. Companies very rarely, if ever, do anything that doesn’t have an anticipated direct benefit for them, but they still insist on spinning their business machinations as selfless and altruistic. Zavery would have us believe that he and Google just care about fairness, or some such, but their ulterior motive is fairly obvious.

Nonetheless this seems like a fairly canny move by Google. The publicity around its act of largesse will definitely put pressure on Microsoft and AWS to follow suit, as well as giving the CMA more ammunition for its probe. And just because you’re self-interested doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Here’s a tweet shared by Zavery pointing to a study written by what seems to be a reliable source. Your move, Microsoft.

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About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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