Behind the curtain of its app offering easy access to 30 million songs, Spotify engineers have been running around keeping the music flowing in physical data centers—until now. Spotify’s online streaming is now going to run on Google Cloud. Its choice of Google represents a significant win for new chief Diane Greene and her growing team as they take on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
For years, Spotify has bought or leased its own data centers, the company said in a blog post announcing the move on Tuesday. The idea, writes vice president of engineering and infrastructure Nicholas Harteau, was to house music data as close to customers as possible. “Operating our own data-centers may be a pain, but the core cloud services were not at a level of quality, performance and cost that would make cloud a significantly better option for Spotify in the long run,” Harteau wrote.
But Spotify’s on-premise hold-out recently ended as the company’s engineers recognized that storing data on the cloud was high enough quality not to merit the extra cost and scaling issues of spinning up their own servers. “That balance has shifted,” making the move a “no-brainer,” Spotify decided.
So Spotify is going cloud, though the company notes it will take time to transition. Its choice of Google, however, makes an immediate splash for Greene and her cloud team. Spotify uses Google Cloud Platform via two streams, its services track and data track, for its migration to Google, writes Google Cloud sales engineer Guillaume Leygues in his own blog post about the switch. Spotify will use Google’s cloud storage, its networking services and its newer data tools for processing and queries as well as messaging.
According to Harteau’s post, Spotify was most impressed by Google’s data tools relative to its lead competitors. Google’s data stack is the best of breed, Spotify’s engineers decided: Harteau called BigQuery, for example, “nearly magical.”
That’s a high-profile and major validation for Google’s cloud offerings, which historically have trailed Amazon Web Services and Microsoft in the market. While Google’s data chops are, as Harteau writes, well known, Google has historically been limited by customer doubts as to how serious the Googleplex really was about its different cloud offerings. Amazon has its own ever-growing array of tools for customers to mix and match; Microsoft keeps adding to its own and enjoys the strength of a large, entrenched install base for Office 365 that helps keep its cloud in the conversation.
Google winning over Spotify, with its obvious major computing needs (2 billion playlists and all those searches for new music happening at any given time), is the latest sign that Google’s serious about its cloud offerings. Now Google has a high profile and consumer-friendly (possible hacks aside) banner customer to use to spread the gospel of its cloud to more data-hungry businesses.