Google Gets Into The Cloud Game

Everyone knows Amazon Web Services (AWS) rules the land of cloud hosting. With big-name sites relying on AWS such as Dropbox, Netflix, and Reddit, the revenue generated is steadily increasing, and expected to grow to a hefty $8.8 billion this year alone. Microsoft has stepped up to compete against Amazon for a piece of the cloud pie, and now another company wants a piece too: Google.

For the past five years, Google has been hard at work allowing developers to play in its data center infrastructure in order to better compete with Amazon. First, their App Engine offered a PaaS solution for hosting web apps. Then, along came Compute Engine, competing with Amazon's Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2).

Now, Google has announced a third Amazon competitor: Google Cloud Datastore, going up against Amazon's Dynamo DB database solution. They have also announced updates to both App Engine (adding PHP support) and Compute Engine (making it open-source so that any developer has access to it).

Google Gets Into The Cloud Game: App Engine Updates

App Engine is somewhat comparable to AWS, except for one thing: using AWS means you have to take care of administering your own servers while Google App Engine means Google does all the scaling and optimizing for you. Offering PHP support is a nice step, and App Engine now supports Java, Python, and Google's own Go language.

What does this PHP addition mean? You can now use App Engine to host your WordPress blog! This definitely makes Google more competitive in the cloud hosting world. If one of your blog posts goes viral, Google's auto-scaling will assure that spikes in traffic don't shut your site down. You can also bundle Google's Cloud SQL, their version of MySQL, with the service. PHP support access is being rolled out slowly over time, only available currently in limited preview.

Compute Engine Updates

When Google announced Compute Engine last year, limited access was granted to a very small group of developers. Now, anyone can give it a go! Also, the company has released “shared-core” instances of the Compute Engine virtual machine for those users considered small-volume (“small” with 1.7GB of memory and “micro” with 0.6GB).

These shared-core instances and any others can be attached to persistent storage, similar to EC2 instances, with a higher size limit than before: persistent storage up to 10TB, which is ten times more than EC2 offers. Prior to this, space was limited to 1.25TB.

Another change: Compute Engine's billing. Rather than hourly billing for instances, they will charge by the minute with a ten minute per instance minimum. This gives users the power to get things done faster, even big tasks, in less time for the same fee as if it were one single, long process.

Introducing Cloud Datastore

To compete with Amazon's Dynamo DB platform, Cloud Datastore was introduced. It can be connected via HTML interface to any app, and because multiple Google data centers keep copies, you can be sure your data is always available and doesn't disappear because of data loss due to an outage at any one of their facilities.

Cloud Datastore is based on BigTable, the company's storage back-end for many of their services, like Google Apps. Google's senior vice president of technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle, said, “It currently serves 4.5 trillion transactions per month, and now it can be used anywhere as a service.”

 Is It Enough?

Will these changes be enough to compete against Amazon? It's hard to say. As it stands right now, the answer to that would likely be ‘no.' The changes are not all available to everyone across the board, offered to a select group. This isn't the way to fight against the big dog.

Still, those developers who have access to the new services will probably tell their developer friends, building a fan base who will anxiously await their turn to test it out for themselves. And let's  not forget that Google is banking on Android developers to rely on their cloud services, complementing their Android developer tools. This will probably be the most likely scenario as more developers build Android apps first over iOS versions.

Are you anxious to take Google's cloud hosting platform for a spin?

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