Google Compute Engine What You Need to Know

In June 2012, Google announced that it was making a cloud computing service.  So how does it work and what can it do for you?

The Basics

The Compute Engine is Google’s answer to Amazon’s EC2 web service.  Essentially both are cloud infrastructure services.  What that means is that Google and Amazon are offering digital resources: disk space and computing power.  Instead of buying a dozen fancy servers, you can run your network off theirs.  These networks are all about centralization.  If you have offices all over the place, they don’t need to have their own major IT hardware, it’s all under Google’s purview.


Initial beta testing reviews show that Google has stepped up to the challenge.  According to Gigaom, GCE is about four times faster in booting virtual machines and about twice as fast at writing ephemeral disks.  Like all Google products, the pricing will range from free to premium.  The highest pricing tier will cost $150 a month.  Application hosting will be free for the first 28 instance hours (reset daily) for on-demand front-end instances and 8 cents an hour after that.

Google’s Cloud Gets Bigger

Google, one of the big names in practically every corner of the internet, is the latest player to unveil a product offering raw computing power in the cloud.

The new service, Google Compute Engine, will compete directly with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. Developers can use the company’s Linux-based virtual machines to run whatever operations they want. So far the product is only in beta testing, but the company’s big name, combined with its promise of lower costs than competitors, seems likely to make it a major player fairly quickly once it goes live for everyone.

Already, Google is a big part of cloud computing. It’s well known for its free, user-friendly applications like Google Docs. It also offers Google App Engine, which lets developers build applications, and Google BigQuery, a service for analyzing large volumes of data. And it has an enormous amount of storage and processing capability. The company doesn’t disclose how much, exactly, but one estimate suggests it’s approaching 2 million.

Yet the market for cloud computing is less in platforms and services built on remove servers than in the servers themselves. Most institutional users are looking for infrastructure as a service—something they can use just like a real server to build whatever they need. That’s what Google Compute Engine is promising to deliver.

This is the third in a series of blog posts on major cloud computing players.

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