Last night Google announced general availability of its Google Compute Engine (GCE) cloud service. Since GCE was first announced at Google IO in June 2012, cloud users and cloud pundits have been analyzing and theorizing about the significant impact Google could have in the IaaS market. While some may have questioned Google’s level of commitment to the initiative, all of its actions to date have highlighted that Google is indeed very serious about competing in IaaS.
Cloud experts point out the strong technology foundation that Google is using to power its cloud services. Its flagship product, Google Search, is, by design, a highly compute-intensive workload that operates at massive scale and requires fast interconnects. It required a huge investment in infrastructure at a time well before cloud as we know it existed. Google also had the vision to buy up dark fiber nearly ten years ago to create low-latency connections between its data centers. That investment helps power some of the most popular applications in the world — from Google Search to Maps to Apps. Now this same advanced infrastructure is available to GCE users. Anyone who has tried to distribute workloads across geographically separated regions knows how valuable it is to have access to a reliable, low-latency network connection available on demand.
Google has been focused on steadily moving GCE though the release lifecycle — going from Early Access to Public Availability in one year and now to General Availability (GA) just seven months later (as opposed to Gmail’s five-year beta phase). GCE is now generally available and with new key capabilities that make it ready to run enterprise workloads.
GCE’s public cloud entry alongside Amazon Web Services (AWS), Windows Azure, HP, IBM, and Rackspace will provide another cloud option to help accelerate adoption. Over the past year and a half, RightScale has worked with many customers deploying and evaluating GCE and we’ve consistently heard five reasons why they are interested in GCE as an IaaS option.
Based on RightScale tests, GCE exhibited extremely high performance with great flexibility. We ran load on GCE’s service and reported detailed results in June 2013 when we scaled a 3-tier app out to 42 servers with 200,000 concurrent users.
Google recently documented additional performance testing where it reached and sustained one million requests per second on GCE — not surprising considering that Google runs much of its own services on GCE. Complete architectural details and costs are outlined in this Google Cloud Platform blog post.
RightScale customer Fishlabs is building its next gaming title, Galaxy on Fire - Alliances, on the GCE platform with the RightScale Multi-Cloud Platform. Fishlabs cites “performance and stability” as reasons for selecting GCE for its compute stack.
Google offers very competitive pricing for GCE. From sub-hour billing to a simple catalog with linear scaling pricing, it’s very simple to make decisions on the basis of cost when you consider the performance you get for the price. For example, if you determine you need more horsepower on a particular application and decide to move from standard-2 infrastructure to standard-4 infrastructure, you may find that with GCE's incremental pricing, you'll be able to do more with the same spec instance compared to what other cloud providers offer. And if you run instances for 45 minutes instead of 60 minutes, you’ll pay proportional rates at the per-minute boundary. This can save you a lot of money when you run a workload that spans many instances and scales up and down regularly.
Most organizations today have a cloud portfolio strategy that leverages public and private cloud infrastructure from more than one provider. RightScale’s own research in 2013 found that 77 percent of enterprises are planning to use more than one cloud provider. Google’s GCE provides cloud users another option in the IT arsenal when it comes to running compute or memory intensive workloads that require low latency interconnects for distributing data. And if you already happen to be using Google services such as DoubleClick Ad Exchange, for example, you now have a viable, co-located IaaS option.
"We’ve chosen to work with the Google Compute Engine and RightScale teams to meet our database scaling and repeatable deployment requirements across platforms. Using GCE and RightScale, our team had a fully functional deployment up and running in a week and we’re enthusiastic about measuring results and performance as we head from beta to launch."
Uli Sesselmann, IT Supervisor, Fishlabs
Google has a longstanding reputation for innovating across a broad spectrum of technologies, and GCE is no exception. As one example, GCE has provided encryption of data at rest as a standard feature of its platform since its inception.
Another recent GCE innovation is the new transparent maintenance feature enabling automatic live migration of virtual machines to help customers stay up and running during planned data center maintenance windows. This live migration of VMs provides additional benefits by enabling automatic migration of virtual machines for host maintenance. GCE can automatically move your workloads once you’ve enabled the capability.
Lydia Leong, an analyst at Gartner, describes the benefit of live migration in her blog: "It’s highly useful to have a technology that allows you to host maintenance without downtime for the instances, because this encourages you not to delay host maintenance (since you want to update the underlying host OS, hypervisor, etc.)."
Leong also points out that GCE has added an Automatic Restart capability that helps increase resiliency in case of hardware failures: "This is one of the features that enterprises most want in an ‘enterprise-grade’ cloud IaaS offering. Now Google has it."
The combination of these two features means that properly architecting for high availability and disaster recovery has just become much easier.
5. Enterprise Readiness
With the announcement of GA, live migration, and automatic restart, along with earlier innovations around security and performance, GCE is now a serious contender for enterprise workloads. As IT organizations move through the stages of cloud maturity, enterprises will select the most appropriate cloud infrastructure for each workload — and GCE has become a viable enterprise option.
In an upcoming blog post, we’ll share a deeper analysis of our hands-on testing of GCE live migrations.
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