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Google's on-prem edge gear to challenge AWS Outposts

Web giant's racks and appliances now generally available

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

GDCE is Google's hardware and software product that puts a fully-managed rack (or appliance) at customers' network edge locations. The idea being 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 made mention of GDCE in October 2021, so that's just over six months from announcement to general availability

Edge computing as an industry is forecast to grow significantly in the coming years, with 2022 alone predicted to see a 14.8 percent uptick in spending compared to the previous year. GDCE appears to be attempting to fit with what organizations are likely to expect from an edge computing provider.

Google's edge feels familiar

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

Both Outposts and GDCE are fully managed, and like AWS, Google has two tiers: a full rack or an individual appliance. 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 somewhat limited at present. GDCE racks only be purchased by customers in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Finland, and the 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 empowers customers to run 5G Core and radio access network (RAN) functions at the edge," Google said, as well as listing four potential enterprise use cases:

  • Computer vision anomaly detection to reduce product defects
  • Real-time robotic inventory management 
  • Using vehicle sensors to improve automobile operating efficiency
  • Scrubbing sensitive data before uploading it to the cloud

Google remains a distant third in the public cloud infrastructure game, with Microsoft Azure battling to catch up to AWS and the Android giant well behind them both. The market turned over $53.3 billion in Q4 2021, with AWS accounting for 33 percent, Microsoft 22 percent and Google 9 per cent.

GDCE racks and servers are a direct competitor not only to AWS Outposts but also Microsoft's Azure Stack. The hybrid on-prem-off-prem cloud world is still in its relative infancy, and one that Google probably needed to enter sooner rather than later. ®

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