Google Cloud debuts new data residency features for Vertex AI

Google Cloud debuts new data residency features for Vertex AI

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Google LLC’s cloud unit today introduced new data residency features for Vertex AI, its suite of managed artificial intelligence development services.

Organizations in regulated industries often require the ability to keep their information within the jurisdiction where it was generated. Google Cloud’s new data residency features are designed to address that requirement. According to the company, they will enable customers to specify the location where the records they process using Vertex AI should be stored.

The first set of data residency options is rolling out for Vertex AI’s collection of pretrained generative AI models. The collection includes PaLM-2, a general-purpose language model similar to GPT-4, as well as more specialized neural networks optimized for tasks such as code and image generation. Vertex AI allows companies to embed those neural networks into their applications.

Google Cloud will now enable users of its generative AI models to keep the data they process in one of 10 countries: the U.S., Canada, Japan, Singapore, Korea, the Netherlands, France, the U.K., Germany and Belgium. The same option will become available for Vertex AI’s embeddings APIs. Those APIs help developers turn their datasets into a format that neural networks can more easily process.

A second set of data residency controls is rolling out for Vertex AI Search and Vertex AI Conversation. The former offering enables developers to embed search features into their software. Vertex AI Conversation, in turn, is designed to simplify the development of chatbots.

Users of the two services can now opt to have Google Cloud store their data in either the U.S. or the European Union. When a customer enables the new data residency features, Google not only keeps information in the selected jurisdiction but also carries out processing there.

“This is just the start of our ongoing commitment of continuing to expand data residency for our customers,” Warren Barkley, Google Cloud’s senior director of product management for cloud AI, wrote in a blog post, adding that offerings will expand soon.

The introduction of the new features comes as Google’s rivals also sharpen their focus on data residency.

Last month, Amazon Web Services Inc. debuted the AWS European Sovereign Cloud, an upcoming network of data centers located in the EU. The facilities are geared toward highly regulated organizations that require the ability to store their information within the bloc. According to AWS, the European Sovereign Cloud is set to operate separately from its existing data centers and will be managed by EU-resident employees.

Earlier, Oracle Corp. introduced a similar offering called the EU Sovereign Cloud. Microsoft Corp., meanwhile, is making data residency investments of its own. The company is rolling out a program that will enable customers of Microsoft 365, Azure and other services to keep their information within the EU.

Image: Google Cloud

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