Google’s data egress offer – no such thing as a free migration?

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has announced it will annul data egress charges for customers that say they want to leave the cloud provider.

However, the move is explicitly aimed at customers that will move away from Google. That means there are limits to who might benefit, with concerns over the time period allowed to migrate data off Google’s systems.

Having said that, the small print also suggests customers that do not fulfil the headline criteria may be able to take advantage of no egress charges.

We look at what Google is actually offering.

What are cloud data egress charges and why are they a big thing?

Ordinarily, all outward cloud traffic – termed “egress” in cloud storage – is invoiced by quantity of data downloaded, whether back to an on-site location, elsewhere to another application, or to another cloud.

GCP’s move now allows it to stand apart from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure by not making such a charge, but only in certain very specific circumstances.

In a notice posted last week, GCP told customers that if they want to quit Google and not have to pay egress fees as they do, they must fill out the Google Cloud Exit form.

Following that, Google will review the request and let them know when they can download their data without charge, being very clear it is “in anticipation of terminating [the] Google Cloud agreement”. After that, the customer has 60 days to migrate their data.

Free egress out of Google cloud, but limited

So, the key stipulation is that to take advantage of the waiving of egress fees, the customer must have declared they want to leave GCP.

To do so, they have to fill in a form under the Google Cloud Exit programme. After that, the Google team responsible will tell the customer when they can initiate the migration, and that’s when the 60-day limit applies.

The offer only applies to customers on the Premium Tier Network Service Tier, and Google reserves the right to audit customer movement of data away from Google Cloud to ensure compliance with terms and conditions.

Having said that, the Google FAQ says its team will review cases where customers want to migrate some of their data and don’t want to leave Google Cloud.

Google doesn’t elaborate on what that means, but for some customers, perhaps it means that if they have the leverage, they might be able to convince Google to waive egress charges under other circumstances.

AWS and Azure likely to follow suit

In waiving egress charges upon customer contract termination, GCP is conforming with a European measure voted in last summer under the framework of the Data Act that obliges cloud suppliers to facilitate data migration, particularly when they are constrained by “contractual clauses imposed unilaterally”.

“This isn’t a question of lowering costs for transfer of data out of Google Cloud in the framework of a classic use case,” said François Denis, cloud consulting director for France-based integrator, Wenvision.

“It does, in fact, apply only where the customer has stated that they plan to totally quit Google Cloud, for data hosted under certain services – BigQuery, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, Datastore, Filestore, Spanner, and Persistent Disk – for customers of premium-level services, and that the offer has successfully passed validation by Google.”

Denis said it’s an offer that looks like it puts Google in the vanguard and AWS and Azure may soon follow suit, but it is likely to benefit very few customers.

“A duration of 60 days in the context of an infrastructure of reasonable size is actually quite short,” said Denis. “And in the context of a project that involves cloud egress, the most important costs aren’t those involved in leaving the cloud, but rather the actual migration costs themselves, such as technical details, planning, organisational change and building teams for the new environment.”


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