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Google's New Cloud Service Doesn't Do Windows

Google this week became the latest major player to launch an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud offering with the general availability of the Google Compute Engine. In so doing, Google is now challenging other major providers of IaaS including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Rackspace, IBM, HP, AT&T, Verizon and VMware.

But if you're looking to provision Windows Server in Google's new cloud, you'll have to wait. Right now Google Compute Engine doesn't support Windows Server or VMware instances. During the preview, launched in May, Google Compute Engine only supported Debian and CentOS. Now that it's generally available, Google said customers can deploy any out-of-the-box Linux distribution including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (in limited preview now), SUSE and FreeBSD.

Despite shunning Windows, at least for now, it's ironic to note that one of the leaders of Google Compute Engine also was a key contributor to Microsoft's original .NET development team over a decade ago. Greg DeMichelle, director of Google's public cloud platform, was responsible for the overall design and feature set for Visual C# and C++ and a founding member of the C# language team.

After leaving Microsoft, DeMichelle joined the research firm Directions on Microsoft and also wrote a column for Redmond sister publication Redmond Developer News magazine, where I was executive editor several years ago. (RDN was folded into Visual Studio Magazine in 2009). I reached out to DeMichelle but haven't heard back yet but I do hope to catch up with him and hear more about Google's plans for supporting Windows -- or lack thereof.

Some analysts believe despite Google's late entry, it will be a force to be reckoned with in the IaaS world. In a blog post Monday announcing the launch, Google pointed to several early customers including Snapchat, Cooladata, Mendelics, Evite and Wix. Google reduced the cost of its service by 10 percent and DeMichelle made no secret in an interview with The New York Times that he believes Google is better positioned to take on Amazon Web Services, where he briefly worked prior to joining Google earlier this year.

Like Microsoft, Google entered the enterprise cloud fray years ago by offering a platform as a service (PaaS), known as Google App Engine. Monday's official release of Google Compute Engine means customers can now deploy virtual machines and stand-up servers in its public cloud.

Google is touting the fact that using live migration technology it can perform datacenter maintenance without downtime. "You now get all the benefits of regular updates and proactive maintenance without the downtime and reboots typically required," Google VP Ari Balogh wrote in Monday's blog post. "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 U.S. zones, with others to follow in the coming months."

Galogh added Google is seeing demand for large instances to run CPU and memory-intensive applications such as NoSQL databases. Google will offer 16-core instances with up to 104 GB of RAM. The company is now offering those large instance types in limited preview only.

As I noted, Google has lowered the price of its standard instances by 10 percent over the price it offered during the preview period. It also lets customers purchase capacity in increments of 10 minutes, according to its price list. With Google now officially in the game, 2014 promises to be a telling year as to which of the major providers can give Amazon a run for its money. But unless Google introduces Windows Server support, it'll miss out on a key piece of the market.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/06/2013 at 12:06 PM

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