Apart from the updates in Singapore, Google also announced AI plans for Thailand and Malaysia.

Apart from the updates in Singapore, Google also announced plans for Thailand and Malaysia. (Image by Shutterstock)

Google announces data residency locations and AI partnerships

  • Google Cloud’s generative AI services can choose to store their data at rest in any of the ten available countries.
  • In Asia, customer data store options are in Japan, Singapore and Korea.
  • Singapore’s Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies and Google Cloud will be piloting the use of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted.

The sovereign cloud is increasingly in demand by organizations as they look to meet compliance and regulatory requirements set by governments in the countries in which they operate. While in the past, only regulated industries like financial services would need such capabilities, today organizations from all industries feel that the sovereign cloud is a more secure option for them.

Data sovereignty is a legal concept that defines the authority and jurisdiction over data. It means that the data that is collected, stored, processed, or transferred within a country or region is subject to the laws and regulations of that country or region. Different countries may have different rules and requirements for data protection, privacy, security, and governance, so where the data is physically stored becomes important in terms of what companies can do with it.

In Southeast Asia, the demand for sovereign cloud has increased, with cloud service providers catering to specific needs for organizations. According to the latest available statistics, Southeast Asia and Europe are both seeing greater demand for such capabilities.

At the same time, the increasing adoption of AI means that organizations need to be able to ensure their data is not compromised. This is achieved by ensuring the data is under their control, meaning that it needs to be stored and accessible easily to them locally.

Google Cloud CEO on the new data residency guarantees, given increasing AI adoption.

Google Cloud CEO on the new data residency guarantees.

Google unveils data residency capabilities for AI workloads

Given the need for companies to be able to control where their data is stored in light of growing data sovereignty and global regulatory requirements, Google has announced that customers using Google Cloud’s generative AI services can choose to store their data at rest in any of the ten available countries across North America, Europe, and Asia.

“With our new data residency commitments for Vertex AI generative capabilities, we commit to storing customer data in customer-selected locations consistent with Google Cloud’s General Service Terms. This specifically includes generative AI on Vertex AI, which includes PaLM 2, Codey, and Imagen models, as well as the Text Embeddings and Multimodal Embeddings APIs,” said Warren Barkley, senior director, product management, Cloud AI, Google Cloud.

In Asia, customer data storage options are in Japan, Singapore and Korea. Barkley also explained that Google handles customer data and privacy in the following ways:

  • Customers control their data and models and control access to them. Organizations dictate who can access their data and models and how these assets can be used.
  • Customers control where and how data and models are stored. Organizations can opt to store data in locations they select, preventing deployments outside specified geographic boundaries.
  • Customer data is never used by Google. Google does not use customer data to train its models, or models used by others, without permission.
  • Customer data is available when it’s needed. AI products are held to the same availability standards as other Google Cloud services.
  • Customers enjoy enterprise-grade security and privacy defaults. Whether for specific security needs or to meet regulatory requirements, Google Cloud’s AI services let organizations apply privacy protections and fine-grained security controls across their data and models.

“Additionally, Google Cloud stands behind these guarantees with technical controls, contractual terms, and industry-recognized certifications and audits. That means when organizations build or tune models on our AI platform, our shared fate approach to risk management means we partner with the organization from day one to protect data and models. These efforts include a collaborative approach to cybersecurity and the development of our Secure AI framework (SAIF), which offers practical considerations to help enterprises mitigate AI-specific risks,” explained Barkley.

The Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT) and Google Cloud will be piloting the use of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted (GDC Hosted) to support CSIT's effort to harness AI in tackling Singapore's defense and security challenges.

CSIT and Google Cloud will be piloting the use of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted (GDC Hosted) to support CSIT’s effort to harness AI in tackling Singapore’s defense and security challenges.(Source – Shutterstock)

Singapore leads data residency in Southeast Asia

Barkley also mentioned that Singapore was picked by Google because of the country’s development and focus on AI. The country is leading the development of AI use cases and adoption in the region, especially with regulations permitting it to do so with minimal complexity.

Yet, there is still the need to meet data sovereignty requirements. Following the announcement, the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT) and Google Cloud will be piloting the use of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted (GDC Hosted) to support CSIT’s effort to harness AI in tackling Singapore’s defense and security challenges.

A member of the Defence Technology Community, CSIT would surely be required to work with a technology provider that can guarantee them data sovereignty. With Google Cloud now making Singapore a key country for data at rest, it only makes sense for CSIT to collaborate with Google Cloud. As part of the pilot, CSIT will trial the use of GDC Hosted on-premises, tapping on the solution’s built-in data management and pre-trained machine learning capabilities to process sensitive data.

GDC Hosted provides organizations in the public sector and highly regulated industries with a cloud platform that requires no connectivity to Google Cloud or the public internet for its operation and continued management. That gives organizations the ability to run workloads in their data centers with the functionality, flexibility, and scale of cloud services.

At the same time, organizations will also have the ability to form clusters across multiple GDC Hosted zones for added protection against system failures, and more flexible, modular options for adding extra compute resources like the graphics processing units (GPUs) designed for running demanding AI workloads.

Speaking of AI workloads, GDC hosted is designed to support data, operational, and software sovereignty requirements, which includes advanced AI and database services like Vertex AI and AlloyDB Omni, and increases customer control and transparency over sensitive data. Updates to GDC Hosted, including Google Cloud’s pre-trained AI models, are accessed through secure hardware and installed by the customer themselves. As a user of GDC Hosted, CSIT retains total operational control over all data and software, ensuring the safety and security of mission-critical workloads.

“CSIT develops digital capabilities for defense and security, such as in cyberdefense. The collaboration with Google Cloud on GDC Hosted allows us to tap on its expertise in data management, cloud technologies, and AI while keeping sensitive data secure,” said Darren Teo, chief executive of CSIT.

Google and the Royal Thai Government, collaborating on AI technology.

Google and Royal Thai Government (Source – Google)

Google and AI: from Singapore to Thailand and Malaysia

Apart from the updates in Singapore, Google also announced plans for Thailand and Malaysia. The announcements, which are focused on AI and skills development, will not only boost the technological capabilities of both countries, but also give Google a stronger footprint in the region.

For Thailand, Google announced a strategic collaboration to boost Thailand’s digital competitiveness and accelerate AI innovation. The agreement will see the parties working jointly to instill four foundational pillars that are necessary for the country to thrive in the AI economy.

The four pillars are:

  • Advancing digital infrastructure investments – Google is exploring the potential establishment of a new in-country Google data center to power digital services.
  • Promoting secure and responsible AI adoption to transform public service delivery – the Thai Government and Google will embark on joint initiatives to accelerate bold and responsible AI development and application across ministries, government agencies, and key industries.
  • Anchoring on cloud-first policies – Google will support MDES’s development of a Go Cloud-first Strategy for Thailand, contributing policy and technology expertise to ensure the delivery of resilient, cost-efficient, and innovation-driven digital infrastructure for the country.
  • Making digital skills more accessible to Thais – Google will be offering 12,000 additional Google Career Certificate scholarships under its Samart Skills program by partnering with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Board of Investment of Thailand.

Ruth Porat, president and chief investment officer; chief financial officer for Alphabet and Google, commented, “Guided by our local mission to Leave No Thai Behind, our partnership with the Government of Thailand seeks to strengthen its digital competitiveness and further advance its cloud-first digital transformation. We see immense potential for technology to be a powerful enabler for businesses and communities. Together we aim to improve the delivery of public services and scale the adoption of AI technologies with Google Cloud. Importantly, we will equip Thais to participate in the digital economy through talent upskilling and by ensuring secure, reliable and innovative digital infrastructure for people and businesses.”

Google and the Government of Malaysia.

Google and the Government of Malaysia (Source – Google)

Meanwhile, the Government of Malaysia and Google announced a strategic collaboration to create inclusive growth opportunities for more Malaysians and homegrown companies in the fast-growing digital economy. The collaboration brings both parties together to help businesses of all sizes advance their digital competitiveness through skilling programs, investment in digital infrastructure, responsible AI innovation, and cloud-first policies.

To provide Malaysians with more digital training opportunities, Google Cloud, CloudMile, and Trainocate are making five digital learning paths available at no cost. Accessible through the Go Cloud program—which aims to upskill 300,000 Malaysians by 2026—the learning paths consist of online courses to help individuals better apply generative AI, data analytics, and cloud-based productivity tools.

The Malaysian government and Google Cloud will also embark on joint AI launchpad initiatives to create new jobs, enhance public service delivery, and help local companies tap into global markets.

“The partnership we are announcing with the government of Malaysia aligns Google’s local mission of Advancing Malaysia Together with the government’s goal to create a supportive ecosystem for innovation that includes more meaningful and equitable job opportunities. To advance these shared goals, we intend to assist Malaysian organizations in addressing real-world challenges using AI, and utilizing Google Cloud technologies to rapidly implement solutions for economic growth and public good,” mentioned Porat.