Google Ramps Compute Engine Features, Removes ‘Beta’ Tag

google compute engine

Google has made its IaaS product ‘generally available’, as it boosts features and cuts prices in a move to compete with Amazon

Google has made its Infrastructure-as-a-Service product, Compute Engine, “generally available”, as well as introducing new features and price cuts, a move which the company said is designed to show it is serious in competing with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The new features include support for more operating systems and instance types, while the price cuts include a 10 percent reduction on the most widely used instances and a 60 percent reduction on Persistent Disk storage. The shift, accompanied by a new logo, comes about 18 months after Compute Engine was introduced in “beta” at Google’s I/O conference in June 2012.

google compute engineAWS competition

In spite of its experience in running what industry analysts believe is the world’s most extensive computer network, Google trails both AWS and Microsoft’s Azure in the IaaS market. Amazon dominates that market by a wide margin, with Gartner estimating in August that AWS provides five times the server space of its nearest 14 competitors combined. Analysts estimate that AWS will generate $3bn to $4bn (£2bn to £2.5bn) in revenue this year, up from $1.8bn in 2012.

The new Google features are aimed at bringing Compute Engine closer to AWS in what it offers, although significant disparities remain. For instance, while in beta Compute Engine supported only the Debian and Centos Linux distributions, with a customised Google-built kernel, but the service now supports “any out-of-the-box Linux distribution”, including SELinux and CoreOS, SuSE, FreeBSD and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (in Limited Preview), according to a blog post by Ari Balogh, vice president of storage infrastructure products at Google.

Unlike AWS, Google doesn’t yet support Windows, but that will change “sooner rather than later”, Greg DeMichillie, director of product management for Google’s cloud platform, told the Wall Street Journal.

Google Cloud

Along with the broader range of operating systems, Google now allows users to run any kernel or software, including FOG, xfs, aufs and the popular workload portability tool Docker, which allows developers to build applications in a local environment and then shift it to a production infrastructure location, as well as easing portability between different IaaS vendors.

More instances

Google has also expanded the range of instances it offers, launching three new instance types in Limited Preview with up to 16 cores and 104 gigabytes of RAM, available in standard, high-memory and high-CPU versions. AWS still offers more instance types than Google, including recently launched high-performance instances and GPU-based instances optimised for graphics and GPU applications. Google doesn’t yet offer GPU-based instances.

Along with a service-level agreement offering round-the-clock support and 99.95 percent monthly uptime, Google introduced a “transparent maintenance” feature which uses live migration technology to carry out regular maintenance without downtime to customers’ virtual machines.

AWS doesn’t yet offer a comparable live migration feature, although customers such as Netflix have built it into their AWS-based systems. The live-migration feature, along with automatic restart of virtual machines in the event of failure, have been introduced in US zones, with others to follow “in the coming months”, according to Balogh. Sebastian Stadil, chief executive of Google customer Scalr, said in a statement that Compute Engine offers better performance and reliability than AWS.

Google dropped prices for its “most popular standard Compute Engine instances” by 10 percent in all regions and lowered Persistent Disk prices by 60 percent per gigabyte, as well as lowering I/O prices for a “predictable, low price” for block storage, Balogh stated. The largest Persistent Disk volumes now have up to 700 percent higher peak I/O capability, according to Balogh.

In May Google shifted Compute Engine to Debian as its default operating system after a round of recent enhancements to that operating system, including improved 32/64-bit compatibility.

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