Google Cloud Platform prices slashed again, intros Container Engine for Docker

The Internet giant's latest cloud developments point toward a stronger focus on serving organizations with a global footprint.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---Microsoft got the cloud news rolling this morning thanks to a Dropbox collaboration, but Google just upped the ante with a deluge of its own additions on Tuesday morning.

Unveiled amidst the second Google Cloud Platform Live summit, the Internet giant's latest developments and improvements point toward a stronger focus on serving organizations with a global footprint.

Google vice president Brian Stevens, who just moved over to the Compute Engine team from Red Hat, reflected that "generation one of the public cloud has been fantastic," but that it has largely been moving a virtual machine into someone else's infrastructure.

Promising to put more focus on the users rather than just the technology, Stevens stressed Google's aim to deliver cloud services rapidly that don't slow developers down but also in reflection to industry trends and disruptions.

This all starts with Google Cloud Interconnect, touted as a higher-performance and secure network designed to serve as the "backbone" for Internet-scale apps and enterprise IT architectures.

With Cloud Interconnect, Google is upping the number of connectivity options for its worldwide fiber network to three methods: direct peering between more than 70 points across 33 countries, carrier interconnect with seven telecommunications partners (including Verizon and Equinix), and VPN-based connectivity for a secure line directly to Google via public Internet.

Tapping into the fervor around open source (specifically the Docker open developer platform), the Cloud Platform is getting Container Engine, a system for running and linking app components running on individual virtual machines to launching portable Docker containers.

Based on the open source Kubernetes project and running on Google Compute Engine VMs, Container Engine is a fully managed service promising an easier channel for moving apps between development machines, on-premise systems, and public cloud providers.

"Google is no stranger to containers," Stevens insisted. "Today, everything they do is spun inside containers. Up to two billion containers are started at Google every week."

Docker, Stevens continued, has become the "de-facto, industry standard" for representing what containers look like.

But one announcement that should appeal to Google Cloud customers large and small: lower prices.

Re-aligning storage prices on top of a 10 percent reduction back in October, Google's latest price cuts affect Network egress (47 percent), BigQuery storage (23 percent), Persistent Disk Snapshots (79 percent), Persistent Disk SSD (48 percent), and Cloud SQL (25 percent).

Google cloud guru Urs Hölzle made waves during the last Google Cloud Platform Live event six months ago with the argument that cloud pricing, like hardware, should mimic Moore's Law.

Since then, the Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered corporation has been promising many more new releases and upgrades since the March event as well as Google I/O in June.

Google executives also revealed a little more about what is going to happen with Firebase, the API maker acquired just a few weeks ago.

For now, the acquisitions means two initial additions to the mobile platform: generally available and richer real-time queries for sorting Firebase data by arbitrary fields along with Triggers, a feature coming soon for defining webhooks sent to external APIs when certain conditions are met.

Other bits of the blossoming Cloud Platform are expanding as well.

The Google Cloud Debugger for troubleshooting apps is publicly available in beta, which should mean that Cloud Platform customers won't have to hunt through logs to analyze what is going on with respective services. Instead, they can highlight a line of code as a watchpoint.

Looking closer at the Compute Engine Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, a Local SSD option is being released in beta. Aimed at customer virtual machines, Local SSD is meant to serve as a high performance scratch disk or backing up replicated databases. On top of that is the the Google Compute Engine Autoscaler, also launching in beta, for automatically growing and shrinking multiple VMs so that developers can better handle large traffic spikes.

On the App Engine side, the Managed VMs first glimpsed earlier this year is also going into beta mode with auto-scaling support, Cloud SDK integration and support for run times built on Docker containers.

News around Google Cloud Platform got started a little early this week. On Monday, Ubuntu purveyor Canonical announced plans to bring certified images of the operating system to the Google cloud.

Canonical touted enterprise IT departments can use these images to run and scale out workloads in the cloud with customer support covering maintenance and security updates for up to five years.

This particular extension to Google Cloud Platform means that Ubuntu is now certified for "every major public cloud," according to Canonical, following deployments for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

To keep the ball rolling (and more customers signed on), Google reiterated a free trial offer consisting of $300 in credits for all Cloud Platform products and services.

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