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Google tries to coax cloud database users away from Amazon and Oracle

The news: Continuing efforts to raise its status among leading cloud providers Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud has unleashed its AlloyDB.

  • During the annual I/O conference Wednesday, Google announced its new cloud database service AlloyDB, per Insider.
  • The service is based on the open-source database management system PostgreSQL and geared to help motivate enterprises to move their databases from data centers and “legacy” vendors like Oracle and Microsoft SQL servers to Google Cloud.
  • A preview version of AlloyDB is currently being tested in the financial services and retail industries, with full availability slated for later this year.
  • In addition to Google’s claim that AlloyDB is twice as fast as AWS’s similar product, Aurora, it’s also trying to distinguish itself by promising not to charge for data input, output, or IOPS, which AWS customers do pay for.

How we got here: In recent years, Google has been pushing to achieve profitability and boost market share for its cloud division as it still lags considerably behind Amazon and Microsoft. Among other moves, the tech giant sees targeting the database arena as a way to tap into a potentially huge customer base.

  • AWS currently commands 40.8% of the cloud market share and Microsoft 19.7%, while Google holds 6.1%, per Insider. Despite trailing the pack and a lack of profitability, Google Cloud grew to $5.8 billion last quarter, up 44% YOY.
  • Database functions represent a prime area of interest for enterprises’ cloud migrations. But the technical expertise needed to make such migrations successful are a barrier for many companies.
  • Oracle, which holds 20.6% of the database management system market, has been criticized by Google and AWS over its long-term contracts and license fees that pose obstacles for future migrations.
  • Meanwhile, Oracle reportedly described AWS’s data transfer fee pricing as “hostile," per Insider.
  • Google is attempting to present its AlloyDB as a more flexible database option compared with Oracle's legacy model while also offering pricing that competes directly with AWS’s Aurora.

The opportunity: Despite robust interest in cloud services, the burden is on providers to foster confidence in their products, considering the daunting task of migration.

  • Assurances of “friendly” pricing and predictable billing for AlloyDB are timed well considering widespread concern about shady cloud billing practices.
  • If AlloyDB performs as promised, it could serve as a stepping stone for companies to adopt other cloud products.
  • Although Google Cloud’s planned rate hike for other cloud services will take effect this fall, offering discounted bundles for AlloyDB along with other services could help attract new customers.