Google's Cloud & Compute Engine

Wed, 4th December 2013, 18:23

Google Cloud Platform gives developers the flexibility to architect applications with both managed and unmanaged services that run on Google’s infrastructure. We’ve been working to improve the developer experience across our services to meet the standards our own engineers would expect here at Google”.

With that opening volley, Google announced that the invitation only developer preview of its compute engine is now open to John Q. Public at large, along with the introduction of new instances, slashed prices, and broadened Linux support for its cloud.

Today, Google Compute Engine is Generally Available (GA), offering virtual machines that are performant, scalable, reliable, and offer industry-leading security features like encryption of data at rest. Compute Engine is available with 24/7 support and a 99.95% monthly SLA for your mission-critical workloads. We are also introducing several new features and lower prices for persistent disks and popular compute instances.

During the preview, Compute Engine supported only two of the most popular Linux distributions, Debian and Centos, customized with a Google-built kernel. This gave developers a familiar environment to build on, but some software required specific kernels or loadable modules (e.g. some file systems), and were not supported. Supposedly you can now run any out-of-the-box Linux distribution including SELinux and CoreOS, as well as any kernel or software you like, including Docker, FOG, xfs and aufs. Google also announcing support for SUSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (in Limited Preview) and FreeBSD.

Google also says developers have asked for instances with even greater computational power and memory for applications that range from silicon simulation to running high-scale NoSQL databases. In response, Google is launching three new instance types in Limited Preview with up to 16 cores and 104 gigabytes of RAM. They are available in the familiar standard, high-memory and high-CPU shapes.


Faster and cheaper.

Google is also upping the ante on faster, cheaper Persistent Disks along with lower cost

Building highly scalable and reliable applications starts with using the right storage. Our Persistent Disk service offers you strong, consistent performance along with much higher durability than local disks. 

Today we’re lowering the price of Persistent Disk by 60% per Gigabyte and dropping I/O charges so that you get a predictable, low price for your block storage device. I/O available to a volume scales linearly with size, and the largest Persistent Disk volumes have up to 700% higher peak I/O capability.
Google also lowered prices on their new 16-core instances Compute Engine instances by 10% in all regions. 

Google's competitiveness here reflects the architecture of the company's overall cloud, which maybe a good proposition for thrifty developers, providing more RAM-per-dollar, a few reliable processors, and blazing fast flash storage. This compares with Amazon, which fields some of these capabilities but also sells a broader range of high-CPU, high-network, and other SKUs.


Transparent maintenance with live migration & auto restart

Taking a lesson from what has become the industry standard for the progressive ‘traditional’ webhosting entities, Google has now implemented transparent maintenance.

We have found that regular maintenance of hardware and software infrastructure is critical to operating with a high level of reliability, security and performance. We’re introducing transparent maintenance that combines software and data center innovations with live migration technology to perform proactive maintenance while your virtual machines keep running. You now get all the benefits of regular updates and proactive maintenance without the downtime and reboots typically required. Furthermore, in the event of a failure, we automatically restart your VMs and get them back online in minutes. We’ve already rolled out this feature to our US zones, with others to follow in the coming months.

Along with the announced, Google did the obligatory showcase of some high profile customers and partners using Compute Engine, and even included a couple of testimonies from users.. Google says Snapchat, Cooladata, Mendelics, Evite and Wix have built complex systems on Compute Engine and partners like SaltStack, Wowza, Rightcsale, Qubole, Red Hat, SUSE, and Scalr have joined their Cloud Platform Partner Program, with new integrations using Compute Engine. 

“We find that Compute Engine scales quickly, allowing us to easily meet the flow of new sequencing requests… Compute Engine has helped us scale with our demands and has been a key component to helping our physicians diagnose and cure genetic diseases in Brazil and around the world.” 
- David Schlesinger, CEO of Mendelics
"Google Cloud Platform provides the most consistent performance we’ve ever seen. Every VM, every disk, performs exactly as we expect it to and gave us the ability to build fast, low-latency applications." 
- Sebastian Stadil, CEO of Scalr 

This announcement means that "the big three" clouds of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are all now in general availability for core compute services. This will lead to a new phase of competition among these companies to win enterprise accounts, and should hopefully lead to further price cuts in the future.


The future of webhosting? 

Some disagree are not so convinced. As one commentator noted:

Amazon has been absurdly priced for MANY MANY YEARS now, again it comes down to the architectural flaws in how the system was designed (they couldn't do a better job at the time because their technology sucked, and they're so far down that suck road now that it's really really difficult to change gears at this stage).

But wait.. Google has the same model.. HP cloud is the same model.. Rackspace Openstack cloud is the same model!! Openstack in general (last I was briefed on it anyway) adopts that same broken model (again because the technology isn't good enough to do it right). The likes of VMware, Hyper-V, RHEV etc got the model right, it's just complicated to scale to very high levels. So these public cloud players take the shortcut, of massive compromise on features, availability, and capacity utilization in exchange for massive scale == large costs for the VAST VAST majority of applications.

You're basically reversing a efficiency trend in IT that has been going on for the past 8-10 years and going back to 90s era provisioning strategies, at least from an IaaS perspective. PaaS, and SaaS are provisioned and billed with different models and those can make sense at large scale operations for customers(obviously both of those have their own limitations). the IaaS technology the public cloud folks are making available is just absolutely terrible by contrast.

Google says it’s looking forward to this next step for Google Cloud Platform as they continue to help developers and businesses everywhere benefit from Google’s technical and operational expertise.

Regardless of your perspective, the competition is pretty sweet though based on Google past track record it may be short lived. It could possibly all disappears a year from now.


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