Google has announced that it will be waiving egress fees for customers seeking to migrate their data away from Google Cloud Platform (GCP), effective immediately.
The decision, which applies globally, allows Google Cloud customers to take advantage of free network data transfer when moving their data to another cloud provider or on-premises infrastructure.
Egress fees, long criticised as a barrier for companies wanting to leave the cloud, are a contentious issue within the industry. Major cloud providers impose hefty charges, trying to discourage customers from switching services.
Amit Zavery, VP of Google Cloud, said, "certain legacy providers leverage their on-premises software monopolies to create cloud monopolies," creating walled gardens in the cloud.
Eliminating egress fees alone is not a complete solution to the challenges customers face when choosing a cloud provider, Zavery said. Customers should be able to choose a cloud provider based on their business needs, not because of restrictive contractual terms or punitive licensing practices (slightly ironic, as up until this announcement Google did the exact same thing - Ed.).
Google is now making it easier to move data around between providers, but there are a few caveats:
Customers need to contact their assigned Google account team member and fill out a "free data transfer form." Google Support will then review their case. Approved customers will have a 60-day window to complete the migration, with the possibility of an extension.
The migration service applies to specific Google services, including BigQuery, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Storage, Cloud SQL, Datastore, Spanner, Filestore and Persistent Disk.
The initiative is primarily for customers looking to permanently leave GCP; terminating the account upon migration completion is a requirement. However, there is a provision for a partial migration of services on a case-by-case basis, catering to users who may want to switch specific data storage services while keeping their virtual machines hosted by Google.
Industry support is strong
There could be a few reasons for GCP taking this move. Some industry watchers think the EU's scrutiny of cloud egress fees as an anti-competitive practice may have influenced Google's decision. By proactively moving to eliminate fees, Google could be positioning itself ahead of potential regulations, especially considering the existing antitrust scrutiny the company faces.
Another theory is related to Google Cloud's position as the third-largest player in the global cloud market, behind Microsoft Azure and AWS. Google could be strategically goading its competitors into following suit to gain an edge.
Whatever the reason, the decision has been welcomed for its potential positive impact on cloud industry competition.
In response to Google's initiative, AWS said that, since 2021, over 90% of its customers have been paying nothing to transfer data out of AWS. The company highlighted its compliance with the European Data Act, ensuring that data transfer charges do not exceed the cost.
The AWS spokesperson downplayed data transfer fees, highlighting that restrictive licensing practices pose a more significant challenge to customer choice.
While Google might be the first big player to totally scrap egress fees, smaller cloud providers have been moving that way for some time. For example, Cloudflare introduced an egress fee-free tier in 2021.