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Google Slashes Cloud Pricing, Adds Windows Server Support

Google today gave Microsoft shops a reason to consider its enterprise cloud services by adding Windows Server support and slashing the pricing of its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings.

At the company's Google Platform Live event in San Francisco, the company also stepped up its effort to extend the appeal of its IaaS and PaaS services to enterprises by introducing a new blend of the two called Managed Virtual Machines, along with an improved big data analytics offering. The company expanded its menu of server operating system instances available with the Google Compute Engine IaaS with the addition of Suse Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server.

"If you're an enterprise and you have workloads that depend upon Windows, those are now open for business on the Google Cloud Platform," said Greg DeMichillie, a director of product management at Google. "Our customers tell us they want Windows so of course we are supporting Windows." Back in December when Google's IaaS was first announced, I noted Windows Server wasn't an available option.

Now it is. However, there is a caveat. The company, at least for now, is only offering Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition, noting it's still the most widely deployed version of Microsoft's server OS. There was no mention if and when Google will add newer versions of Windows Server. The "limited preview" is available now.

The new Windows Server support was a footnote to an event which emphasized lower and more predictable pricing and a new offering that allows customers to get the best of both the PaaS and IaaS worlds. Given Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft frequently slash their prices, Google had little choice but to play the same game. That's especially the case given its success so far.

"Google isn't a leader in the cloud platform space today, despite a fairly early move in platform as a service with Google App Engine and a good first effort in Infrastructure as a Service with Google Compute Engine in 2013," wrote Forrester analyst James Staten in a blog post. "But its capabilities are legitimate, if not remarkable."

Urs Hölzle, the senior vice president at Google who is overseeing the company's datacenter and cloud services, said 4.75 million active applications now run on the Google Cloud Platform, while the Google App Engine PaaS sees 28 billion requests per day with the data store processing 6.3 trillion transactions per month.

While Google launched one of the first PaaS offerings in 2008, it was one of the last major providers to add an IaaS and only recently hit the general availability status with the Google Compute Engine back in December. Meanwhile just about every major provider is trying to catch up with AWS, both in terms of services offered and market share.

 "Volume and capacity advantages are weak when competing against the likes of Microsoft, AWS and Salesforce," Staten noted. "So I'm not too excited about the price cuts announced today. But there is real pain around the management of the public cloud bill."  To that point, Google announced Sustained-Use discounts.

Rather than requiring customers to predict future usage when signing on for reserved instances for anywhere from one to three years, discounts of 30 percent of on-demand pricing kick in after usage exceeds 25 percent of a given month, Hölzle said.

"That means if you have a 24x7 workload that you use for an entire month like a database instance, you get a 53 percent discount over today's prices. Even better, this discount applies to all instances of a certain type. So even if you have a virtual machine that you restart frequently, as long as that virtual machine in aggregate is used more than 25 percent of the month, you get that discount."

Overall other pay-as-you-go services price cuts range from 30 to 50 percent dependency. Among the reductions:

  • Compute Engine reduced by 32 percent across all sizes, regions and classes
  • App Engine pricing for instance-hours reduced by 37.5 percent, dedicated memcache by 50 percent and data store writes by 33 percent. Other services including SNI SSL and PageSpeed are now available with all applications at no added cost
  • Cloud Storage is now priced at a consistent 2.6 cents per GB, approximately 68 percent lower.
  • Google BigQuery on-demand prices reduced by 85 percent.

The new Managed Virtual Machines combines the best of IaaS and PaaS, Hölzle said. "They are virtual machines that run on Compute Engine but they are managed on your behalf with all of the goodness of App Engine. This gives you a new way to think about building services," he said. "So you can start with an App Engine application and if you ever hit a point where there's a language you want to use or an open-source package that you want to use that we don't support, with just a few configuration line changes you can take part of that application and replace it with an equivalent virtual machine. Now you have control."

Google also extended the streaming capability of its BigQuery big data service, which initially was able to pull in 1,000 rows per second when launched in December to 100,000 now. "What that means is you can take massive amounts of data that you generate and as fast as you can generate them and send it to BigQuery," Hölzle, said. "You can start analyzing it and drawing business conclusions from it without setting up data warehouses, without building sharding, without doing ETL, without doing copying."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/25/2014 at 1:00 PM


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