It’s a question worth asking because Spotify’s transition from operating its own data center infrastructure to Google’s public cloud is the first high-profile public use case for a cloud service provider that’s often mentioned alongside Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure – thanks primarily to the scale and might of its data center infrastructure – but has yet to prove it can really compete with the two public cloud giants successfully.
Spotify announced the move in February, saying its “lazy engineers” had been questioning the necessity of leasing data center space, managing servers and networking gear, and scaling it all to keep up with demand. The music streaming service is available in close to 60 markets globally, hosting more than 2 billion playlists and streaming more than 30 million songs.
Spotify will be using Google’s cloud compute, storage, and networking services, as well as its data services, such as Pub/Sub, Dataflow, Big Query, and Dataproc. The company is transitioning from an on-prem to an all-cloud infrastructure model gradually – a process it expects will take months to complete.
While flexibility of cloud infrastructure and the ability to outsource the scaling headaches are big benefits over running your own data centers, cost is the single most crucial factor, especially at the scale of a service like Spotify. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have been battling each other on price for several years now.
Spotify and Google didn’t release any details about how much the streaming company is paying for Google’s cloud services, but David Mytton, founder and CEO of Server Density, a server monitoring startup, has made an attempt to calculate what some of those costs may be, since Google’s pricing is fairly transparent.
Mytton’s analysis is limited to the cost of Spotify’s event delivery service, which is transitioning from Apache Kafka to Google Pub/Sub. Event delivery is the only service Spotify has shared some numbers about, making it possible to deduce some cost estimates that are more or less close to reality. The full analysis is on Medium.
His conclusion is that Spotify is paying about $290,000 per month for Pub/Sub alone, although it’s possible that it received some discount, given that Google is getting more out of this deal than just a paying cloud customer.
In November 2015, Urs Hölzle, Google’s VP of technical infrastructure, said this year would be the year Google shows the world it is serious about its cloud services business. Deals like Spotify are important to telling that story.