Less than a week ago, Google came out with a whole raft of new features for its cloud platform, and cut the price, too. The changes are especially great for software developers, but they’re good for anyone who wants to do more in the cloud than store and share files (which you can do for free, of course, up to fairly generous storage limits – that hasn’t changed).
Consistent with the way that Google usually does things, Google Cloud has a lot of different functions all interconnected and working together. At the same time, each function is separate in terms of what you have to sign up for and pay for, so it’s a best of both worlds situation.
Application Development, Managed VMs
First off, for app developers, you can build, test, and release applications in the cloud, with very little that has to be done outside it. When you submit a change to an app with git, Google automatically runs and tests a clean build incorporating the change. You can keep aggregated logs, complete with filtering and search tools, across all your instances.
They also introduced Managed VMs, which lets you run binary code inside a virtual machine and make it part of your App Engine by adding a few lines of code. App Engine automatically manages these VMs for you, combining the flexibility and versatility of a virtual machine with the scaling and auto-management that are features of App Engine.
Expanded Computer Engine
Compute Engine has also been expanded in terms of platforms supported. Linux Enterprise Server by Red Hat and SUSE are available for all users now, and they also have a limited preview of support for Windows Server 2008 R2. Hopefully the latter will become available for everyone before too much longer.
Also new is BigQuery Streaming, a big data service. It lets you run SQL queries on data sets of 100,000 records per second per table in real time, providing near-instant updates. Anyone with really massive data streams to analyze will appreciate this and like the price even better at $5 per terabyte. Reserved query capacity at 5 GB per second runs $20,000 a month, which is about a quarter of what competitors will bill you for the same service.
AND All for Less Money!
Sound good? Sure it does, but what’s even better is that with all this improved and expanded functionality you’ll actually pay less for Google Cloud in most cases, not more. Google has both simplified its pricing structure and cut prices for most services, for most users.
Let’s start with pay-on-demand services, which is probably the way most people use the Cloud now. Prices for the various paid services have been dropped by up to 85 percent, and it’s likely that most users will see their bills cut in half. The biggest discount is for BigQuery, but cloud storage now costs 2.6 cents per GB (which will save most users some two-thirds of their bill), AppEngine functions have dropped in price by anything from a third to half, and Compute Engine has gotten a flat 32% cut across the board.
On top of which Google has also introduced what they’re calling Sustained Use Discounts. When you use a Google VM for a whole month, which presumably means every day during the month, the (new, already lower) price drops another 30 percent. There are no up-front payments, and no need to lock in any particular capacity; you can just pay as you go, and if you end up using the service for a whole month, the discount kicks in.
All of this is done cafeteria style. You can pick any of the services you want to use and don’t have to buy a package containing things you want and need and others you have less use for. If you use one function every day, ten times a day, and another maybe once in a blue moon, you can buy both on a pay-as-you-go basis, get a substantial discount for the one you use a lot, and pay relatively more per use but less total for the one you rarely use. You can scale hosted apps up or down to handle varying traffic loads, up to millions of users. Google servers are famously reliable with lots of redundant capacity, so you should have no downtime and low latency barring an asteroid collision or nuclear war or something.
Looks like a Winner
Comments on the announcement and blog story have been generally excited and positive. Someone noted that in their opinion some of the functions like AppEngine were overpriced in the past, but that this fixes it. Now it remains to be seen how Google’s competitors will respond, especially Amazon, or if they can. Any way you look at it, this is a major development in cloud computing and a real benefit for users in terms of both what can be done and how much it will cost.
And apparently they’re not finished, because Google’s cloud platform blog promises more news in June. May have to have an update at that time. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next.