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Spotify is making a big switch -- and it's a huge win for Google

Google IO + Urs CloudGoogleGoogle’s Urs H√∂lzle

Top Google exec Urs Hölzle thinks that the company could make more money from its cloud business than its advertising cash cow by 2020.

It’s a big, bold goal, given that Google Cloud Platform is seen as a third-place player — at best — next to leading competitors Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

That’s why it’s such good news for Google that music streaming service Spotify has chosen the Google Cloud Platform to power its backend infrastructure that delivers tunes to its 75 million users. The switch will take place over the coming “weeks and months.”

Spotify currently buys or leases most of its data center space, writes Spotify VP of Engineering and Infrastructure Nicholas Harteau in a blog post. Given Spotify’s global popularity, the strategy has been to operate as many servers as it could all over the world to ensure rock-solid performance from anywhere.

In that blog entry, Harteau says that the data center model served Spotify well for a long while, mainly because cloud platforms like Google’s or Amazon’s weren’t mature enough yet. It made the high costs of maintaining, monitoring, and staffing data centres a lot more palatable, versus the possibility of moving too quickly to a less-robust platform.

“Recently that balance has shifted. The storage, compute, and network services available from cloud providers are as high quality, high performance, and low cost as what the traditional approach provides. This makes the move to the cloud a no-brainer for us,” Harteau writes.

Under the cloud computing model, companies pay by the minute or hour to rent capacity in a tech titan’s hyper-efficient data center, rather than maintain their own. Lots of businesses, and even plenty of larger enterprises, have turned to the cloud to save money and get bigger.

Daniel ek spotifyAndrew Burton/GettySpotify CEO Daniel Ek

With Google services for crunching and analysing huge amounts of data, including “the nearly magical abilities of BigQuery,” Spotify is getting the same or better performance from Google’s cloud than they were running their own. And as Spotify grows, it can access more capacity from Google’s cloud as it needs to, rather than buy any more servers.

We’re pretty excited about our Googley future and hope you’ll find it interesting too,” Harteau writes.

A funny side-note here is that in a weird way, Google is helping the competition.

With this added scale, Spotify will be able to better compete with Google Play Music, the search giant’s own music streaming service. Then again, it’s in good company — Netflix, which obviously competes with Amazon Prime Video, just finished its migration onto Amazon Web Services.

Regardless, it’s still a big win for Google Cloud Platform as it continues to pour on more speed in the cloud race.

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