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Google updated its Cloud Spanner database service today to allow its customers to distribute their databases across multiple of the company’s cloud regions, living up to the promise that it set forth when it released the product earlier this year.

Customers will benefit from distributing their workloads both because of the fault tolerance that the capability provides and because of the reduced latency for serving information from the database to customers. While network speeds continue to get faster, data transfer is still hampered by the speed of light (at the very least), which means that getting data closer to an end user will provide them with a better experience.

This feature will allow companies to globally distribute data without having to worry about some of the headaches that usually come with that, like working to maintain consistent copies of the data across multiple regions. Google handles the complexity of running the underlying compute capacity needed to serve the needs of a particular workload, and all customers need to do is write code.

Cloud Spanner is built on Google’s own internal Spanner service, a database that the company created to serve its own global needs. Google wanted a database with global scale, high consistency, and high availability in order to handle products like AdWords, and Spanner was designed to meet that goal with features like the use of atomic clocks in all of the company’s data centers in order to ensure accurate time stamps.

In addition to the added feature, Google also announced that it would guarantee 99.999 percent uptime for workloads in Cloud Spanner, with no planned downtime. That means the tech titan is guaranteeing its customers their database will be down for less than five minutes per year, something Google says is unique among cloud providers.

Deepti Srivastava, the product manager for Cloud Spanner, said in an interview that Google has seen a great deal of interest in the product and the multi-region feature from companies across a wide variety of industry verticals and sizes.

For example, Evernote is moving away from using its system of hundreds of MySQL database shards to store users’ notes to Cloud Spanner, which should help guarantee availability and free up engineers to work on things other than managing database shards.

This feature is a key step to help Google compete in the cloud market, as it takes on companies with larger market share like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. Cloud Spanner is something only Google is poised to provide, meaning that it might help the company attract customers who might otherwise have turned to other providers.

Update 10:00 Pacific: This story has been updated to include Google’s claim about how its SLA compares to other cloud providers.


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