Google is pondering a cloudy move to China and a hookup with local operators Tencent and Inspur, according to reports.
China, long coveted by the Western technology industry for its massive, tech-hungry markets, is a ripe target for the usual big firms on two fronts: as a market to sell into and as a contract producer of goods. It's the first of these which interests Mountain View.
Worryingly, the Asian powerhouse's increasing use of technology as a mechanism for political repression is of little apparent concern to Western businesses lured by the promise of fresh-to-the-brand buyers.
Although Chinese law requires its citizens' data to be stored within its borders, as Data Centre Dynamics reported, foreign cloud companies can operate in China – provided they partner with a local firm that owns the physical data centres.
Google reportedly declined to comment on a recent Bloomberg report that it was in talks with Tencent and Inspur Group in the early part of this year. The financial news wire said that China's efforts were aimed at getting its Drive and Docs products into the Chinese market.
Back in 2010, Google pulled its search engine services from China shortly after threatening to do so when government-backed hackers targeted the Gmail accounts of pro-democracy campaigners. Evidently the lure of lucre is proving too strong for whatever passed for Google's morals eight years ago.
A Google Cloud move into China would put it head-to-head with local players such as Alibaba, as well as Amazon and Microsoft; the latter two already have local partnering deals to comply with Chinese law on data centre ownership. Nonetheless, the benefits of a tie-up with one of the Western world's biggest tech players can only be to the smaller firm's advantage, especially if its objections on principle to Chinese law can be damped down with enough commercial favours and negotiations. ®