Google Compute Engine goes GA

Google Compute Engine (GCE) — Google’s cloud IaaS offering — is now in general availability, an announcement accompanied by a 10% price drop, new persistent disk (which should now pretty much always be used instead of scratch disk), and expanded OS support (though no Microsoft Windows yet). The announcement also highlights two things I wrote about GCE recently, in posts about its infrastructure resilience features — live migration and fast VM restart.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the king of this space and is unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon, although Microsoft Windows Azure is clearly an up-and-coming competitor due to Microsoft’s deep established relationships with business customers. GCE is more likely to target the cloud-natives that are going to AWS right now — companies doing things that the cloud is uniquely well-suited to serve. But I think the barriers to Google moving into mainstream businesses are more of a matter of go-to-market execution, along with trust, track record, and an enterprise-friendly way of doing business — Google’s competitive issues are unlikely to be technology.

In fact, I think that Google is likely to push the market forward in terms of innovation in a way that Azure will not; AWS and Google will hopefully goad each other into one-upsmanship, creating a virtuous cycle of introducing things that customers discover they love, thus creating user demand that pushes the market forward. Google has a tremendous wealth of technological capabilities in-house that it likely can externalize over time. Most organizations can’t do things the way that Google does them, but Google can certainly start making the attempt to make it easier for other organizations to adopt the Google approach to the world, by exposing their tools in an easily-consumable way.

GCE still lags AWS tremendously in terms of breadth and depth of feature set, of course, but it also has aspects that are immediately more attractive for some workloads. However, it’s now at the point where it’s a viable alternative to AWS for organizations who are looking to do cloud-native applications, whether they’re start-ups or long-established companies. I think the GA of GCE is a demarcation of market eras — we’re now moving into a second phase of this market, and things only get more interesting from here onwards.

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Posted on December 3, 2013, in Infrastructure and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Lydia,
    Interesting post. As much as it pains me to admit, I’ll offer an example of a customer we, at Peer1 Hosting, lost recently to GCE. (The company is a ~10 person development shop spending in the mid 4 figures a month on hosting.)

    They were very happy with us and our service was solid. Their decision wasn’t about price, tools, or features, either.

    It was because they are moving many other parts of their business to Google. GMail, Google Docs, etc. So, it’s just easier for them – or at least they expect it to be easier for them in the long run – to have everything with Google, including GCE.

    Really only Microsoft can compete with Google when it comes to a customer who wants to ‘put it all with one provider’. Not AWS and not Peer1.

    I would be interested in knowing if you are hearing this a lot right now or whether this customer is more of an outlier.

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