Google sets up to challenge Amazon Web Services

Google sets up to challenge Amazon Web Services

Summary: Google's cloud platform garnered a ton of interest at Google IO and comparisons to Amazon Web Services. However, the burden of enterprise proof lies with the search giant for now.


Google's move to make its Compute Engine generally available sets up an duel with Amazon Web Services. Keep in mind that Google is playing catch up, but a recent set of moves should make things interesting.


On Wednesday, Google took the wraps off the Google Compute Engine. It also moved to support PHP, a popular programming language, with Google App Engine. At Google IO 2013, the search giant had a key track for its cloud platform. Engineers talked persistent disk, redundancy, scaling, storage and pitched developers on spinning up an instance for less than 2 cents an hour.

Also: Google Compute Engine updates: What you need to know

Presentations at Google IO included benchmarks showing better performance of Google Cloud Engine relative to "an unnamed competitor," which was obviously AWS.

The key items for Google's cloud platform go like this:

  • There are sub-hour billing increments down to one minute. Google argues that this sub-hour billing will save money on cloud bursting.
  • Smaller instances for low workloads.
  • Routing and networking knowhow from Google.
  • Persistent disk storage.
  • A Cloud Datastore service that is designed to be used for big data applications.
  • Google's cloud is also offering premium support and engineers pledged to improve the program, which it argues is already "quite responsive," say execs. 

Clearly Google could be dangerous to AWS. Google developers were clearly interested in the cloud platform. Sessions on cloud services were either packed or overflowing.

Meanwhile, the search giant has engineering knowhow, infrastructure at scale, the economics that allow it to accelerate the cloud pricing race to the bottom and credibility with enterprises via its Google Apps services. Google can also launch features at a rapid clip that may rival AWS.


However, the burden of cloud proof for enterprises will clearly rest with Google, which will have a few things to prove. Here are the hurdles Google will face challenging AWS:

  1. Support. AWS has been improving its customer support and has layered a bevy of options out for customers.
  2. Case studies. AWS has landed major enterprise case studies in major verticals. AWS is also handling more mission critical workloads.
  3. Partnerships. Google has promising cloud services, but will need to partner with the likes of SAP and Oracle to really meet enterprise demands. Google's moves so far seem geared to smaller companies.
  4. Features. AWS has a blistering pace when it comes to launching new services. By adding things like support for virtual private networks AWS is basically telling companies that it will continually improve. Google will have to prove the same.
  5. A customer service ethos. Amazon revolves around the customer whether it's e-commerce, the Kindle usage model or AWS. Google doesn't have that experience working directly with customers. Google will have to prove itself and come up with features such as the AWS Trusted Advisor.
  6. Longevity. AWS has been around since 2006 and enterprises are likely to dabble with Google but may be wary of a perpetual beta reputation. Google's enterprise cloud cred will take time to develop.

At Google IO, I caught up with Daniel Powers, director of global sales for the Google Cloud Platform. Powers is a cloud veteran and previously worked at both AWS and IBM. He made the following points, which go a long way to addressing those aforementioned hurdles. 

  • Google's enterprise team, which sells Google Apps, Chrome and Chromebooks will also work in Cloud Platform. In other words, Google already has feet on the street and may already have more sales distribution than AWS. 
  • The company will be looking to expand its cloud parterships with key players such as SAP, Oracle, Red Hat and Microsoft so there are a bevy of instances and use cases. 
  • Google's cloud team met with its customer advisory board to talk roadmaps and features needed. 
  • Large enterprises will be serviced by Google's large client unit, which targets Fortune 500 companies. 

Make no mistake, Google can be a threat to AWS, but it has some work ahead. However, if Google positions Cloud Platform in the context of its overall enterprise portfolio the company can close gaps with AWS quickly. For now, it's worth monitoring Google's cloud efforts, which need to develop more but are likely to garner CXO interest.

Topics: Cloud, Amazon, Enterprise Software, Google, Storage

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  • Both google and aws trail azure by a long shot

    Even if your not using the MS stack Azure is still the best cloud option.
    Johnny Vegas
    • To each their own

      Unfortunately, Microsoft Azure does not support the OS of choice for me. AWS does, for ages and we will see about Google.

      When it comes to Azure, if your workload is Windows specific, yes it does have an edge. If not... there is no proof that it is any better and with so little other platform support it is not exactly inviting.

      I have said it number of times already: Microsoft is betting too much on an Windows-only world. They should have learned already this is bad idea long term and is never going to happen. Let's hope with more experience in Internet services they are gathering via endeavors like Azure, they will learn better. The alternative is Microsoft specializes in Windows hosting, others specialize of their OS of choice hosting and yet others are generic --- then let users chose based on platform support.
      • It's only in the IAAS world you care about OS

        If you move into the PAAS space you'd only care how able a service is and its cost. You'd be relieved a bunch of configuration you'd have to handle in the IAAS world, and that's the trend ahead.
      • Open Source

        Agree. The enterprise is embracing Linux; then they will cut all the non-essential Oracle/MS SQL instances and switch to an open source rdb ('non-essential' meaning for home grown apps or COTS that don't force them to use Oracle or MS SQL. I expect Google to have a good offering. A little late to the party; but they can still grab a nice slice of the market.
        beau parisi
        • what are they going to replace MS SQL or Oracle with?

          you need three times the hardware to achieve the same performance level as you get with ms sql, not sure about oracle, but I'm assuming it is decades ahead of any open source database in therms of performance. you will have to spend the money saved on software licenses on more hardware and on more complex and expensive in-house development.

          most of those linux-embracing enterprises keep buying more and more SQL server licenses. because they do think that it is cheaper and faster than relying on a bunch of free (in spirit), open-source, but yet mediocre databases.

          there is one great database in open-source world -- PostgreSQL. in many ways it beats MS SQL and Oracle, but all around it is still lagging far behind in terms of performance and features
          • Yep

            PostgreSQL is not a great performer. It also comes included with some products from other companies and I always wonder why they didn't use MSSQL express.
      • Azure supports Linux

        So why are you saying it is only Windows?
        • That's because

          He doesn't have a clue about Azure.
      • And what is the OS of your choice?...

        Is it Ubuntu? SUSE/openSUSE? OpenLogic? ALT Linux? centos? If any of this, and many more, you may go straight to Azure. And with better performance and pricing today then AWS, Google and others (
        You should stop having those preconceptions. This isn't a fanboy club, is a business matter.
      • What OS do you want?

        Azure supports any distro of Linux that you'd like to run... by default, the gallery "create VM" has options for openSUSE, SUSE Enterprise, 3 different flavors of Ubuntu, and CentOS. Additionally, the community has prepackaged literally hundreds of other pre-canned OS+AppServer images at ...
  • I get enough with Google App Engine.

    His service was expensive, unstable, slow and, worst, proprietary.
  • Limited Support

    I saw a demo of Google cloud stuff at GDC and I was impressed, although I also saw some stuff from AWS and have to say I thought right now AWS was the better service. The major killer for me with Google is that they are open source only. I like the choices with AWS I can run open source stuff, throw in a WCF service, or whatever I might want. You don't get that level of choice with Google or Azure right now.

    On the note of Enterprise embracing Linux / open source, some are and some are not. Linux has its place in almost every enterprise IMO but there is so much windows / .Net development going on in enterprise. For as many large companies that you could point out moving towards Linux and open source I could point to an equal amount that is getting rid of that and moving to Microsoft development solutions. Each has their place.
  • Google isn't a reliable cloud partner period.

    The company is a dataminer, hence cannot be trusted. Both Azure and AWS are much better options.
  • Isn't Azure a near complete AWS competitor?

    So Microsoft and Amazon are competitors with Google's new offering. These companies have interesting layers of competition and interoperability: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Apple, & Samsung. They each have areas where they dominate, then areas they compete with the others, and then areas they support each other.
  • viability of Google

    It is not clear to me why Daniel Powers of Google has said that the company would "partner" with Microsoft, when Microsoft has been adament and obstinate of not partnering or cooperating with anyone else.

    Amazon Cloud services need good competition outside of Microsoft with it's very restrictive, insecure and and unreliable services, and if Google Cloud Services are reliable, extremely secure, flexible and very powerful as claimed they would be, so much the better.
  • Azure

    Azure is so good, that we've begun migrating our stuff from AWS over to Azure. Quite frankly, AWS is a very capable service, but their management interface is so ugly. Azure presents so much nicer to upper management, that the admin interface pretty much has sold itself.
  • Great but how new is it really?

    I'm not a back-end tech guy who understands the language spoken in order to determine what language to code in and am useless in that regard. It does however, seem that now, these days, coding and IT specialists are in dire supply but due to a lackluster economy, come cheap. So, I have a few back-end guys holding the camera, carrying out the required functions necessary to drive an organic site predicated on human nature and bare necessity. The ultimate question is how do you merge consumers and producers and in what manner can google best achieve this. I believe there is a way to take what's intrinsic in human nature and use it to create an empowered society predicated on real issues, clashing parties coming to realize that being partisan in a world, where China is operational on around forty percent of the world's copper supply, is the wrong focus. I strongly believe through my constant work and creative mind, I can offer the world a platform not just merging the marketers with the market but making them one in the same. The dissipating middle class has the chance at wealth and empowerment and the one or two percent rich, well, I'd like for the suicide numbers to fall, but maybe the super rich can offer help and advice to those in need.

    Gentlemen, It is my fundamental belief that everyone on this planet has an inherent voice, and has the innate right to be heard. I can offer this and it won't be all at once, nothing ever is, patience is a virtue. Unemployment is getting worse, people feel unsafe. If you can't trust the banks like you did in the 90's, a period of growth and prosperity, who can you, we trust? It has to be one another for a greater good. Greed can be good so long as it's pointed in the right direction, trigger finger steady, and that's when we will really grow in a viral, highly systemic way shown over and over again in human nature. Follow the pack mentality is why AD guys still have jobs. Show people how they can and are different, monetize an arena through streamlining content better then anything on TV and as addictive as a drug. This is what I plan on doing and if I can't I'm going out swinging.

    Tim L
  • Azure?

    No mention of azure? It's clearly a strong presence in the cloud space so not sure why it was omitted.
  • Look at the revenue model

    Perhaps I am too principled, but I look at the revenue model as one factor on who I will deal with. Microsoft makes their money selling software, Amazon makes their money selling goods, Apple (an aside in this article) makes their money selling hardware, IBM makes their money selling services and software, and Google makes their money selling their users. I will not deal with a company whose primary goal is to spy on their users and sell the knowledge. Yes, I know I can protect data stored using their cloud service. But, the principle rules.
  • service and support

    I don't know about GCE vs AWS specifically, but if we can extrapolate from the retail/consumer space there is no comparison. Amazon is one of the very best at that game while Google clearly doesn't get it, at least not yet. Hopefully they'll learn a thing or two.