Google Cloud Platform has announced that it has removed "exit fees" for customers wishing to leave its services.

In a blog post shared on Thursday, Amit Zavery, head of platform at Google Cloud wrote: "Starting today, Google Cloud customers who wish to stop using Google Cloud and migrate their data to another cloud provider and/or on-premises, can take advantage of free network data transfer to migrate their data out of Google Cloud. This applies to all customers globally."

Google Cloud Building
– Sebastian Moss

Zavery goes on to argue that "restrictive and unfair licensing practices" are a fundamental issue and that "certain legacy providers" leverage their software monopolies to create cloud monopolies that "lock in customers and warp competition."

Zavery adds that no customer should be locked in with a provider due to "overly restrictive contracting terms or punitive licensing practices."

The free data transfer from Google does come with some caveats. It only applies to customers looking to fully exit Google's Cloud, their application will first be reviewed by the Google Cloud Support team which must approve it. Following approval, customers have only 60 days to fully exit the provider and must then terminate their agreement.

The company's website adds: "Google Cloud reserves the right to audit movement of customers' data away from Google Cloud for compliance with program terms and conditions." DCD has contacted Google for more information about the likelihood of approvals, and what conditions may look like.

It is also worth noting that while Zavery's blog post condemns those "certain legacy providers" for using fees to lock in customers, Google Cloud too had egress fees until January 10, 2024.

The announcement has also fallen on the same date that the EU Data Act comes into place - January 11. The Data Act requires cloud providers to remove "obstacles to effective switching" between their own and competing cloud services, including commercial, contractual, technical, or organizational hurdles - and by extension egress fees. Cloud providers have 20 months to comply with these requirements.

While Google has certainly taken the requirements seriously and stepped up rapidly, they would nonetheless have been forced to remove data transfer fees eventually for all European customers.

DCD has asked the company if the move was motivated by the EU Data Act, and contacted other major cloud providers to see if they will soon follow suit.

AWS told DCD in an email: “AWS designs cloud services to give customers the freedom to choose technology that best suits their needs. Since 2021, over 90 percent of our customers pay nothing for data transfers out of AWS because we provide them with 100 gigabytes per month for free to use for any purpose.

"In accordance with the European Data Act, for the small number of remaining customers, AWS will not charge eligible EU customers more than cost for data transfers out to support switching or in parallel use of other relevant providers. Restrictive licensing practices remain a far bigger issue to customers who want the choice of working with their preferred cloud provider.”