The next time you indulge in an afternoon binge of the latest Justin Bieber album on Spotify, pay attention: How long does it take for the first song to start playing? If you're on a decent connection, it should be pretty much instantaneous, like hitting the play button on a CD player or classic iPod.
It might seems obvious—Of course the music starts when we hit play! That's how life works!—but this is actually a big deal. Spotify isn't just delivering the track "Sorry" to your earbuds; it's pushing the same song—and tens of millions of other songs—to millions of people around the globe. And in most scenarios, it sounds pretty good.
Spotify and services like it wouldn't be able to conduct this sorcery without a bulletproof backend system. This week, Spotify announced a major change to its infrastructure: From here on out, Spotify will rely on Google's cloud computing platform to deliver its service to listeners.
Until now, Spotify's music streaming service has been powered by a patchwork of data centers around the world and, like so many others, the company has used Amazon Web Services to help deliver massive payloads of data—content, specifically—to people around the world.
But while Amazon has made a name for itself as the backbone of many of the services we all know and love—Netflix, among countless others—Google has quickly been amassing its own prowess in cloud computing, which, like Amazon, it sees as a critical part of its future business.
This partnership will likely be invisible to users, but it's a big deal for Google Cloud Platform: Spotify is a global, media-intensive streaming service and its vote of confidence in Google's infrastructure is a pretty big endorsement.