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GoogleGoogle has continued its expansion plans in the public cloud sector after announcing it will open 12 new data centres by the end of 2017.

In recent weeks, Google has been expanding its footprint in the cloud space with rumoured acquisitions, hires of industry big-hitters and blue-chip client wins, however its new announcement adds weight to the moves. With two new data centres to open in Oregon and Tokyo by the end of 2016, and a further ten by the end of 2017, Google is positioning itself to challenge Microsoft and AWS for market share in the public cloud segment.

“We’re opening these new regions to help Cloud Platform customers deploy services and applications nearer to their own customers, for lower latency and greater responsiveness,” said Varun Sakalkar, Product Manager at Google. “With these new regions, even more applications become candidates to run on Cloud Platform, and get the benefits of Google-level scale and industry leading price/performance.”

Google currently operates in four cloud regions and the new data centres will give the company a presence in 15. AWS and Microsoft have built a market-share lead over Google thanks in part to the fact that they operate in 12 and 22 regions respectively, with Microsoft planning to open a further five.

Recent findings from Synergy Research Group show AWS is still the clear leader in the cloud space at market share of 31%, with Microsoft accounting for 9% and Google controlling 4%. Owing to its private and hybrid cloud offerings, IBM accounts for 7% of the global market according to Synergy.

Growth at AWS was measured at 63%, whereas Microsoft and Google report 124% and 108% respectively. Industry insiders have told BCN that Microsoft and Google have been making moves to improve their offering, with talent and company acquisitions. Greater proactivity in the market from the two challengers could explain the difference in growth figures over the last quarter.

Alongside the new data centres, Google’s cloud business leader Diane Greene has announced a change to the way the company operates its sales and marketing divisions. According to Bloomberg Business, Greene told employees that Google will be going on a substantial recruitment drive, while also changing the way it sells its services, focusing more on customer interaction and feedback. This practice would not be seen as unusual for its competitors, however Google’s model has been so far built on the idea of customer self-service. The cloud sales team on the west coast has already doubled in size to fifty, with the team planning on widening this recruitment drive.

While Google’s intentions have been made clear over recent months, there are still some who remain unconvinced. 451 Group Lead Analyst Carl Brooks believes the company is still not at the same level as its competitors, needing to add more enterprise compatibility, compliance, and security features. “They are probably the most advanced cloud operation on the planet. It also doesn’t matter,” he said.

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