Google launches alleged Amazon Web Services killer, but lacks maturity, options

Google has thrown down a Amazon Web Services challenge, but has a way to go to match its rival on breadth and depth.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google launched Compute Engine Infrastructure as a Service in a bid to offer cloud infrastructure much like Amazon Web Services. However, the effort, which is in a "limited preview," lacks the depth and options provided by Amazon.

In a nutshell, Google is allowing users to spin up virtual machines. Coupled with Google's App Engine, Google Apps and Drive the company is building out its cloud stack.

Google's promise is that it'll provide all the access to its computing power to companies.

The idea of a cloud stack isn't exactly original. Amazon has focused on infrastructure as a service, but others offer a cloud menu of items. Everyone from Microsoft to Oracle to HP to IBM to VMware have a cloud stack.

Although details were sparse, Google indicated that it will try to win vs. other cloud players based on raw performance.

For Google its cloud compute effort could meld well with Google Docs, which will work offline in Chrome, and ultimately its Chromebooks, which will now be sold at Best Buy. Compute Engine and App Engine are seen as a good tag team to Google.

More Google I/O: Google intros Compute Engine infrastructure service | CNET live blog

Urs Holzle, senior vice president for technical infrastructure at Google, outlined the company's infrastructure as a service effort.

Holzle, who noted that Google App Engine has million active apps, pitched the company's service levels, value and performance. Holzle highlighted how adding 10,000 cores to a gene project moves analysis along. AWS has a similar case study.

According to Holzle, Compute Engine can offer "50 percent more compute per dollar" than other vendors.

Here's a look at Google's virtual machine pricing:

“We worked hard for a decade to lower the cost of computing, and we’re passing these savings on to you,” Holzle said to roar of applause from the developers in the audience.

The price comparison to Amazon Web Services is a bit tricky. Amazon EC2 offers a free tier that includes

  • 750 hours of EC2 running Linux/Unix Micro instance usage
  • 750 hours of EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server Micro instance usage
  • 750 hours of Elastic Load Balancing plus 15 GB data processing
  • 30 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) plus 2 million IOs and 1 GB snapshot storage
  • 15 GB of bandwidth out aggregated across all AWS services
  • 1 GB of Regional Data Transfer

After that EC2 on-demand pricing goes like this.

Is Google an Amazon Web Services killer? That outcomes remains to be seen. Google has touted its number of cores, value and Linux virtual machines. There's no doubt that Google's cluster and high performance networking will be worth checking out.

Google's core compute services include:

  • Compute with on-demand Linux virtual machines in 1, 2, 4 and 8 virtual cores with 3.75GB RAM per virtual core.
  • Storage. Store data on local disk, persistent block device, or Google Cloud Storage.
  • Network. Connect virtual machines into clusters with configurable firewalls.
  • Tooling. Configure and control via a scriptable command line tool or web UI.

Those tools are notable, but not as mature as what Amazon is offering. Amazon offers storage, compute, databases, content delivery networks, identity management as well as templates to build cloud services. In addition, Amazon got an early lead and has worked to court the enterprise buyer as it evolves contracts and services and offers Windows instances as well as connections to Oracle and SAP applications.

Add it up and Google has thrown down a Amazon Web Services challenge, but has a way to go to match its rival on breadth and depth.

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