Google Inks deal With SpaceX to deliver Starlink Internet

Published on 15 May 2021

On Thursday Google announced that it had signed a deal with Elon Musk's SpaceX to provide cloud computing and networking resources to deliver internet services via its Starlink satellites.

SpaceX's goal is to offer fast internet service to enterprises by the second half of 2021. With this in mind, SpaceX will install groud stations at Google's data centers. These stations will connect to the Starlink satellites. This is good news for Google's cloud computing division that is working hard to gain share in the market from behemoths Amazon and Microsoft. Investors are hoping that Google's cloud business, which is still in its early stages, will help boost growth for the company if its ad business slows down. With 3rd party cookies being phased out and increased regulations for end-user privacy, many believe that the digital advertising revenue will shrink. In 2020, Google generated revenue of 181.6 billion dollars, from this 146.9 billion was generated by advertising revenue[1].

What is Starlink

Starlink is a constellation of low earth orbit satellites being developed by SpaceX to deliver satellite internet. The network aims to bridge the gap in urban and rural areas when it comes to internet connectivity. The reason internet connectivity in rural areas is poor is because of the high cost of infrastructure required to deliver better internet. Starlink's satellites will beam the internet directly to an end-user terminal, thus cutting down on infrastructure cost immensely. The network will use lasers to increase internet speed and for satellites in the network to communicate with each other. Currently, satellite internet is slower than fiber-optic or broadband internet, however, Starlink promises that its laser technology will help bridge that gap. As the satellites are in lower earth orbits, they will also have less latency. SpaceX has over 800 satellites in orbit[2].

See also: Google Stadia Not Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

More about Google cloud

The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a cloud computing solution offered by Google. The platform runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its popular products like Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube. GCP provides cloud data storage, computing, analytics, and machine learning services to enterprises. Users also get access to management tools to manage the purchased cloud services. GCP is part of the larger Google Cloud which includes the GCP, cloud infrastructure as well as Google Workspace. Google Cloud also offers a service called Anthos, a hybrid and multi-cloud application platform.

Google releases important updates for Anthos

Anthos was launched in April 2019 as a platform to help businesses looking to transition to cloud technologies. The platform allows businesses to run Kubernetes workloads on-premise, in private clouds, on Google Cloud, and in other popular public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Many businesses hesitate to make the move to the cloud because they are locked in with specific vendors and have complex systems in place that are based on hybrid or multi-cloud environments. This means that for applications to be deployed, businesses would need to develop and write code for the architecture of each cloud on their network, depending on where the application's resources were running. This also creates complex security requirements.

Anthos acts as a single platform that businesses can use to manage all Kubernetes workloads. It simplifies the development, deployment, and operation of applications by bridging incompatible cloud architectures. Anthos provides a unified model for resource management and operational consistency across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, they can apply common configurations across infrastructures. Thus businesses do not need to have certified experts in multiple proprietary cloud technologies, one for AWS, one for Azure, one who knows the on-prem infrastructure, etc. Instead, they can focus their skills on a single technology.

In April of this year, Google rolled out updates for Anthos that would make it easier for customers to manage deployments on multi-cloud environments. The updates can be categorized into two main buckets: updates meant to simplify platform management, and updates to provide increased consistency across cloud environments. The software company, Flexera conducted a survey of 750 cloud decision-makers from across the globe. The survey found that 92% of companies had a multi-cloud strategy and 82% said that they were utilizing a hybrid approach (a mix of public and private clouds). This signifies the need for a platform like Anthos, that can help such businesses work more effectively with and manage these complex environments.

Biggest cloud providers of 2021

Amazon Web Services remains the top cloud provider of 2021. A top choice for enterprises and for hybrid cloud environments, Microsft's Azure is the second biggest cloud provider. The Google Cloud Platform comes in at number 3. The platform is in its nascent stage but has a strong $11 billion revenue run rate. Like with most services, China has its own providers that lead the sector. The Alibaba Cloud is the biggest provider in China. IBM is expanding its cloud offering, in one of its largest-ever acquisitions, IBM acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in 2019. Red Hat is one of the largest providers of open-source software products to enterprises. Dell Technologies/VMware and Hewlett Packard Enterprises are not industry leaders but continue to have a significant stake in the cloud provider market. SaaS solutions like Salesforce and Service now are also expanding their offerings. Salesforce is set to acquire Slack for $27.7 billion and will use the service to connect its clouds. Slack will act as the new interface for the Customer 360 offering.

Difference between multicloud and hybrid cloud

The terms multicloud and hybrid cloud have become ubiquitous. They are however distinct and there are key differences between multicloud and hybrid cloud infrastructures.

What is a cloud?

There are a set of servers, these servers are accessed via the internet, the servers are used to run different software, tools, databases, and for file storage. This setup is referred to as a cloud. Traditionally businesses would need to manage their own physical servers and run applications and software on their own hardware. Cloud computing makes it possible for businesses to access servers and computing resources without the need to invest in hardware. Cloud computing eliminates the need for businesses to have their own server rooms or farms. It also makes it easier for businesses to scale up or scale down based on their needs.

Public and private clouds?

As the term suggests, a private cloud is owned by an enterprise and uses its own intranet or hosted data center. A public cloud however is not owned by the public or the government. A pubic cloud hosting solution is owned and managed by a cloud solution provider. The cloud's services are available to the public and not exclusive to a particular enterprise. Hence, these types of clouds are referred to as public clouds. The main way to differentiate between a public and private cloud is who is responsible for management. For a private cloud, the enterprise that owns the cloud will be responsible for managing the data center, infrastructure and ensuring things operate smoothly. On the other hand, for a public cloud, the solution provider is responsible for management and maintenance. The enterprise is only using cloud computing services. Companies that have experience with data centers and have expertise and infrastructure in place typically have their own private clouds. This type of architecture is typically more secure. With public clouds, businesses often have concerns with regard to security. Using a public cloud is however less expensive and requires less investment.

What is a multicloud?

A multicloud, also spelled as multi-cloud or multi cloud, is a term used to describe a network architecture that is made up of multiple clouds. For example, a business is utilizing AWS's cloud solutions to run software but is using Azure for file storage. In this setup network architecture is made up of both the AWS cloud and the Azure cloud. Hence in the term multi stands for multiple.

What is a hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud infrastructure has a combination of a private cloud and one or more public clouds. Typically in this type of infrastructure, the business will have proprietary software that communicates with each distinct public cloud for the service provided. a hybrid cloud setup gives businesses greater control of their private data.

Multi cloud vs hybrid cloud: What is the difference?

It is important to understand that all hybrid cloud environments are multi-cloud environments but all multi-cloud environments are not hybrid cloud environments. For infrastructure to be referred to as multi cloud, more than one cloud needs to be in use in the architecture. Multi-cloud infrastructure may also include the physical and virtual infrastructure of an enterprise including its private cloud. Hence, the presence of more than one cloud makes an environment multi-cloud.
For infrastructure to be qualified as a hybrid cloud, a private cloud must be part of the architecture. In a hybrid cloud environment, both the public and private cloud are combined to work for the same purpose. In a multi cloud environment, the public clouds are engaged for a specific service for example one cloud may be used for file storage, another for databases. In a hybrid cloud environment, all components work together. Hence in these types of environments data and processes intersect and intermingle.

How to choose between multi and hybrid clouds?

When it comes to a decision between hybrid cloud vs multi cloud, enterprises should start with introspection. What are their current workloads? What databases do they have? What are their storage needs? Once they have a clear understanding of their current requirements, the next step is to map future needs. How will these needs evolve over the next five years? Are there any changes in the pipeline that will impact how the business operates? What impact will that have on data and processes?
After these questions are answered, enterprises can map what workload can be fulfilled by their private cloud (if available) or existing infrastructure and which cloud providers would be best suited for different workloads. Choosing multiple cloud providers gives businesses peace of mind as they are not reliant on a single vendor. To choose a hybrid cloud approach, enterprises should have the required expertise in-house. When this is lacking, a multi cloud approach is better suited.

Continuous improvement and analysis are key. A particular provider may be the best choice for a workload today, but that may not be the case one year from now. The cloud provides offerings are dynamic and constantly changing. Hence, businesses need to continuously examine their infrastructure and update providers as required to get the best deals.

Often enterprises end up with a muticloud model by accident. Different departments start using different cloud solutions to meet their needs and over time a multi cloud architecture is in place. This is why governance and management is key for an effective cloud approach. There should be a clear understanding of the business's cloud footprint and its requirements so that the correct solutions can be put in place while ensuring all regulatory demands are met.

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1. Feb 2021, J. Johnson, "Annual revenue of Google from 2002 to 2020(in billion U.S. dollars)", [available online] available from: [accessed May 2021]

2. Feb 2021, C. McNally, "SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet Update 2021", [available online] available from: [accessed May 2021]