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Google Cloud expands to South Korea and Salt Lake City

The search giant made the announcement at its Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco.

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Google held its annual Cloud Next conference in San Francisco.

Richard Nieva/CNET

Google is extending its cloud services to more markets.

The search giant said Tuesday that it's bringing the products, which include its data storage and networking services, to two new regions: Seoul, South Korea, and Salt Lake City. Google made the announcement during its annual Cloud Next conference in San Francisco.

"Cloud is one of the biggest investments at Google," CEO Sundar Pichai said during a keynote address at the event. "We are in it for the very long term."

Though Google is bringing its cloud services to Seoul and Salt Lake City, the company said it won't be making any additional real estate investments in those cities, such as for data centers. Google said its cloud services will be available in 23 regions worldwide by 2020, including Finland, Mumbai, Sydney and Hong Kong.

"We've made an enormous investment in infrastructure, time and engineering to bring these out," Dominic Preuss, a Google director of product management, said during a press conference Monday. "Asia is a big area of growth not just for Google Cloud, but for cloud in general. So we're investing heavily." 

Google's cloud business has become crucial to the tech giant as it tries to bring in new revenue from businesses other than its juggernaut online advertising operation. The company has been leaning on its massive storage and data infrastructure, as well as its machine-learning tech, to compete with Amazon and Microsoft for high-end business customers. Google Cloud's clients include Target, The Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson.

Last year, Pichai said sales from the company's cloud business now tally more than $1 billion per quarter.

But as the operation has grown, the business has also drawn controversy. Last year, Google's employees protested against Google Cloud's involvement in Project Maven, a Pentagon initiative to use AI to improve the analysis of drone footage. In response to the protest, Google said it wouldn't renew the contract.

Shortly after the outcry, Pichai released ethical guidelines for the company to follow as it creates AI technology. Those guidelines include vows to never develop AI for weaponry and to create only technologies that are "socially beneficial," though Google didn't rule out working with the military.  

Google on Tuesday also unveiled Cloud Run, a tool that helps companies build and run apps without thinking about data servers. Google also announced a handful of Google Cloud integrations with companies, which will let customers build on open-source tools. For example, one tool will let customers use one interface to manage all their apps. Another lets clients manage and log support tickets all in one place. 

The search giant also said it's partnering with Chase to build the "bank branch of the future," where people can learn to code or get tips on how to set up a small business. Chase said it's opening up a new center in Harlem to test out the model, and will announce more details later.

First published April 9, 9 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:23 a.m.: Adds details from Google's keynote presentation.