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Google’s fiber network, as of August 2017. (Google Photo)

Google Cloud Platform customers will have a new option when selecting the type of network used to deliver their traffic to their users: they can keep using Google’s network, or they can save some money with the new option of using public transit networks.

Google has long argued that one of the best reasons to use its public cloud service is the strength of its fiber network, developed and enhanced for more than a decade to support the global data centers powering its search engine. But there are some applications that don’t require that level of performance, and so Google is now offering a cheaper networking service that uses the transit networks that deliver the bulk of traffic to internet service providers, said Prajakta Joshi, product manager for cloud networking at Google.

The new “Standard Tier” should offer performance comparable to what customers would experience through “other cloud providers,” Joshi said, although both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure operate fiber networks outside of the public internet. A basic networking 101 reminder: most internet traffic passes through a number of different intersections from its source on the way to its destination, but Google’s “Premium Tier” network was built outside that system to support its global search ambitions by reducing the number of “hops” data is forced to take along the way.

(Google Photo)

Standard Tier customers can expect to save between 24 percent to 33 percent compared to what they are current paying as part of their default cloud bill to use Google’s Premium Tier network, Joshi said. They can put different workloads within Google Cloud Platform on different network tiers; the slower option can be good for data transfers that aren’t time-sensitive, or workloads that aren’t critical to business operations, Joshi said.

It’s hard to know how many people will make future cloud deployment decisions based on fact that Google now offers a slower, cheaper networking service. But Joshi argued that you’re already able to customize so many other aspects of your cloud services — like compute and storage — and adding networking options that strike a balance between performance and cost gives customers who are closely watching their cloud budgets another option.

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