Google's update of its Google Cloud Platform shows the search giant is serious about capturing the next wave of web startups by offering a cloud hosting environment with key capabilities at an aggressive pricing approach.
The updates introduced at its Google Cloud Platform Live event included cutting-edge features that are designed to make its cloud more attractive to developers than rival platforms, especially Amazon, which similarly targets "cloud-first" companies that are largely bypassing on-premise infrastructure.
Talking to V3 the day after the launch and Barak Regev, Google's Enterprise Cloud Platform sales lead for Europe said taking this approach was key to help Google compete with its rivals and meet the needs of new businesses entering the market.
"It's not a secret that developers are a key play, not only for us but a lot of people. They've been important in driving the whole cloud evolution. But let's be clear, when you are meeting a tech startup, they are developers. The co-founders of Snapchat are developers at the end of the day."
In order to draw in more customers such as these, Google said it is trying to fix the things that still make cloud too difficult for many developers to start working with and get the most out of.
"It seems like you need to be a PhD to determine the best pricing model, and whether you opt for time to market or scalability," Regev said.
To address this, Google introduced significant cuts in prices, reducing the cost of its Compute Engine service by 32 percent and BigQuery analytics by 85 percent, for example, while also simplifying the pricing structure for its services.
However, Regev tried to downplay the pricing issue, although he admitted that this is what tends to grab the headlines.
"We tried to simplify, to make a lot of the decision making scenarios simpler for the developer and the business manager so they don't have to make trade-offs between big data analysis and building massive infrastructure, for example.
"But we do feel that Moore's Law has not been cascaded down to the end users like it should be. Google is a huge investor in data centre technology, and we know what has been going on with the price of hard disks and memory and processors, and felt it was time to reset the pricing model," he explained.
Among the new features, Regev highlighted Managed Virtual Machines as one that will prove especially useful for developers. This is designed to bridge between the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) typically used for development, and the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) arena that offers full flexibility, but also requires the user to be able to manage resources themselves.
With Managed Virtual Machines, users can still start with PaaS, but extend out to one or more virtual machine instances, if required, with the PaaS layer providing the management, Regev said.
"The reality of PaaS is, it's beautiful – you don't have to do anything from the operational level, just focus on the application. The downside is that the set of languages is limited. If you have an algorithm that runs on Windows, or you want to do data manipulation, you can't," he explained.
"With Managed Virtual Machines, we're breaking the glass between the two and giving you the ability from AppEngine to spin up a number of instances and have it link to them and manage them for you. You're still benefiting from the low operational overhead, but getting the flexibility. You don't have to make a choice between the two," Regev said.
But Google also has an eye on the enterprise market, and is promoting its cloud as a future platform for even the largest companies to build new applications and services.
"Over time, we see a bit of a shift in the way enterprises are adopting cloud. We're seeing more and more adoption of new workloads naturally going to the cloud first, even at the enterprise level," Regev said.
"We are focusing a lot on explaining to large enterprises that your next big project, whether it is a big data project, a line-of-business project or geo tagging or asset tracking with analytics, we focus a ton of effort on showcasing our platform for these projects as well," he added.
Google's newly introduced Cloud DNS, which enables customers to manage both their domain name system and virtual networking configurations from a single control point, is one tool designed to help such customers link their on-premise infrastructure with Google's cloud, Regev said, but admitted that Google is still some way behind vendors such as VMware when it comes to this.
"It's the first step in meshing them together. If you're an enterprise and you've invested a great deal in, say, CA Unicenter for doing all your monitoring and command and control, we're at the beginning of how to expose all these cloud assets to run under those tools, and that's a key investment area for us," he said.
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