Google Distributed Cloud Edge to Challenge AWS Outposts • The Register

Google Distributed Cloud Edge (GDCE) has reached general availability.

GDCE is Google’s hardware and software product that places a fully managed rack (or device) at the edge locations of customers’ networks. The idea is that you install the equipment, plug it in, run Google’s software on it, and use your Google Cloud account to orchestrate the workloads and data on it.

Google first reported GDCE in October 2021, so that’s just over six months from announcement to general availability.

Edge computing as an industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, with expenditure forecast to increase by 14.8 percent in 2022 alone compared to the previous year. GDCE seems to be trying to fit in with what organizations are likely to expect from an edge computing provider.

The Google advantage feels familiar

Readers who see direct similarities between GDCE and AWS Outposts can be forgiven.

Both Outposts and GDCE are fully managed, and like AWS, Google has two tiers: full rack or individual device. The rack includes six servers, two top-of-rack switches, and cabling and optics that can be configured with AC or DC power. Availability is currently somewhat limited. GDCE racks can only be purchased by customers in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Finland and UK.

GDCE appliances, on the other hand, are a single 1U server with RAID-based local NFS, a Trusted Platform Module, and an optional Nvidia GPU. Again, comparisons between AWS Outpost servers and GDCE hardware are easy to make.

As for what Google sees GDCE hardware doing, standard edge computing philosophies apply. “GDC Edge enables customers to run 5G Core and radio access network (RAN) functions at the edge,” Google said, listing four potential business use cases:

  • Detection of computer vision anomalies to reduce product defects
  • Real-time robot inventory management
  • Using vehicle sensors to improve car efficiency
  • Clean sensitive data before uploading to the cloud

Google remains a distant third in the public cloud infrastructure game, with Microsoft Azure fighting to overtake AWS and the Android giant well behind both of them. The market was $53.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, with AWS accounting for 33 percent, Microsoft 22 percent and Google 9 percent.

GDCE racks and servers are not only a direct competitor to AWS Outposts, but also to Microsoft’s Azure Stack. The hybrid on-prem-off-prem cloud world is still in its relative infancy, and Google probably had to get into it sooner rather than later.


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