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Google makes preemptible VMs more efficient

The internet giant is lowering the prices on its already-cheap way to access the public cloud.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer on

Google on Tuesday announced that it's lowering prices on preemptible virtual machines (VMs), a cheap -- albeit somewhat unreliable -- option for customers looking for the cheapest way to access the public cloud.

After tweaking algorithms, improving efficiency, and analyzing usage patterns, Google product manager Michael Basilyan said in a blog post that preemptible VMs are now up to 33 percent cheaper.

Preemptible VMs are just like any other Google Compute Engine VM, with two big caveats: They cannot run for more than 24 hours, and Google can shut them down if it needs the capacity for other purposes. While it's not a guaranteed resource, it gives customers cheap access to any extra cloud capacity.

Basilyan highlighted the ways Google customers have made use of preemptible VMs since they were launched last year, including analyzing data, rendering movies, and processing satellite imagery. Customers have used thousands of preemptible VM cores in a single job, he said.

Amazon Web Services similarly offers Spot Instances, allowing users to bid on extra AWS EC2 instances. The major cloud players have been competing over pricing for some time. However, Google arguably comes closest to a model that strives to let customers to pay only for what they use. In addition to offering preemptible VMs, Google earlier this year expanded its Custom Machine Types offerings. They also offer sub-hour billing and sustained use discounts.

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