Shopify Inc. will use Google Cloud to provide its back-end infrastructure so it can focus on its core technology — an online commerce platform that, in turn, provides back-end services for small and medium businesses.
Ottawa-based Shopify, a Canadian tech unicorn valued at about $15 billion, announced on Monday a partnership with Google Cloud to use its worldwide data centre and network infrastructure that enables computing, storage, networking, data management and machine learning.
The companies did not disclose the financials of the deal. But it means Shopify will rely less on its own data centres and spend more time developing its platform, which makes it easy for merchants to sell online, Shopify’s senior vice-president of engineering Jean-Michel Lemieux said in a joint interview with Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene in Toronto.
Shopify serves more than 600,000 businesses, so must deal with massive amounts of data and traffic.
“When Black Friday hits, they get through it no matter how much the demand goes through the roof,” Greene said.
When Shopify started in 2006, it had no choice but to build its own infrastructure to store and manage data, Lemieux said. Shopify has data centres in the U.S., but will shift all of its shopping traffic to Google Cloud. Already, more than 50 per cent of its commerce traffic is happening in the cloud, he said.
“Google has the strength to help Shopify scale our infrastructure globally and we can spend our time on the commerce stuff,” Lemieux said.
The partnership reflects a larger shift toward companies relying on such major cloud providers as Google and Amazon for the data centres necessary to move vast volumes of online traffic and manage increasing amounts of customer data.
Greene, a Silicon Valley pioneer who founded and ran VMware and joined Google in 2015, said the shift to the cloud has enabled “a bit of a revolution.”
“It’s changing what we can do in the world. We can get way more insight into solving our problems,” Greene said. The cloud can scale up to allow “completely elastic” computing and storage resources, resulting in “endless” resources to do data analytics and machine learning, she said.
When tech first became a big deal, big companies outsourced their information technology systems, but these complex systems moved slowly. But the cloud enables change to happen quickly.
“Consumer products got way ahead of the enterprise,” she said. “Because of the cloud, enterprise can finally move fast.”
Partnerships like the one with Shopify mean businesses don’t have to worry about building their own data centres and managing them.
“They can just build the applications for their customers and rely on us for the back-end,” she said.
Meantime, Google has thousands of undersea fibre cables and data centres in 15 regions, Greene said, adding that she’s proud of Google Cloud’s cybersecurity.
“Because of the scale of Google we can have a more secure cloud than you probably could in your own data centre because we can hire more security people,” she said.
Google Cloud has nearly 1,000 full-time security people, 200 security guards at its data centres and customized proprietary chips in servers that validate whether the operating system has been tampered with, she said.
“We get tens of millions of threats a minute and we handle them 24 hours a day,” she said.
She added that Google encrypts its customers’ data. Shopify has the encryption key so Google cannot see its data in its centres or over the network.
“Our customers’ data is completely private to our customers. We do not share any of it,” Greene said.
Shopify’s Lemieux cited Google’s intensive research around security and its commitment to open-source infrastructure as reasons for trusting it to provide Shopify’s infrastructure.
“We fundamentally respect customer data. Everyone you hire has to have that in their DNA,” he said.