The Google Compute Engine

Google Compute Engine logoThere are many providers vying for cloud supremacy.  Amazon EC2 is a favorite of many but that doesn’t mean others are not interested in taking a share of the market.  The internet search giant is trying to dominate even in the cloud.  Google Compute Engine is what some will call an alternative to Amazon’s EC2.  As in cases like this, it is normal for people to establish comparisons.  However, there is more to life in the IaaS world than just offering virtual servers in the cloud.

What does Google Compute Engine Offer?

When a new player like Google comes along, those who have been looking for a feature that they could not get from their current providers will want to check out the new kid on the block.  Google of course is a well known brand and has deep pockets to compete with the best in the cloud.  However, offering new features like Load-balancing will not make customers come running in droves.  Pricing is also not enough to entice people to make a shift from their current provider to Google Compute Engine (GCE).  The reason for this is that migrating from a system to another is often fraught with risk.  Competing cloud providers often don’t provide a seamless migration plan.  They want to lock their current customers to their services.  It will be a big mistake to think that Google is really going after Amazon’s Web Services.  Google Docs and its new incarnation are features in the cloud that are offered as a way to keep users locked into Google services.  The same is true of Google Compute Engine.

GCE is Linux based and that means those who are running on Microsoft Windows will have to wait for a while.  That said, not all flavors of Linux are supported either.  To be precise, you will be getting either Debian or CentOS.  If your services are running on Linux, you will be in good hands. Apart from the Operating System, you also have the load-balancer mentioned previously.  This is a great feature if you are expecting a lot of traffic and are running a distributed system.  That said, this feature is not part of the basic package.  That means you will be paying more for using more resources from GCE. Persistent IP address is another feature that you get with your server deployment on Google Compute Engine.  It is similar to the Elastic IP address you get on Amazon EC2. When you look at all the features from GCE, you might get the feeling that it is very similar to Amazon Web Services.  In the IaaS world, most providers offer similar service.  What often differentiates them is pricing and customer preferences. Does it make a difference to most users if they are charged by the minutes like in the case of Google or by the hour in the case of Amazon?  Most people running a server will likely not pay much attention to the details.  The final monthly bill will decide the final call.

What about performance?

This is rather subjective and it also depends on what type of operations you plan to run in the cloud.  Some have claimed that GCE has a faster server startup time when compared to Amazon.  That can be irrelevant if you are in a distributed environment where another server takes over in the case of a server restart. No matter how you look at it, Google offering Virtual Machines can only be good for end clients who will now have an alternative to try out in the battle for IaaS dominance.

Chuck Romano

Chuck Romano

Chuck Romano is a Database Admin with 11 years experience in IT. He is an avid Linux user! His interests include reading, chess, baseball, golf, sports, music, playing guitar, learning, traveling, business, technology, and most of all watching Curious George cartoons with his daughter.

Chuck Romano


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