Two weeks back at Google I/O, Google announced the release of their infrastructure services offering called Google Compute Engine. This is a pretty interesting move from Google who is late in the infrastructure game compared to Amazon Web Services or, even, Microsoft Azure. The last two weeks were filled with posts from pundits and I didn’t add to the cacophony then. But a post by Benjamin Black, who was part of the original AWS team and who co-founded Boundary. He makes a very strong case for Google Compute Engine, arguing how it is on par with Amazon’s cloud offering and also making a strong case for Google’s move.
The Google Cloud Platform, now synonymous with Google Compute Engine, is the biggest deal in IT since Amazon launched EC2 and will completely alter the cloud market in at least two fundamental ways:
- We now have a utility market
- We now have true competition
The first will cause an explosion in adoption, especially by enterprise customers. You want to build a 99.99%+ availability system on top of something that has 99.9% availability? Well, you better have more than one, and now you do. Here comes the hockey stick! The second will result in all the usual competition benefits of more aggressive innovation and better prices for customers.
Though my intention was to highlight this pretty good write-up on Google’s IaaS offering, I thought I will also add why I am excited.
Ok, why the heck are you excited about an infrastructure offering? Isn’t it going backwards?
I have been bullish on PaaS being a future of Cloud Services for sometime now (otherwise I wouldn’t have organized a conference focussed exclusively on PaaS). But seeing Microsoft and Google move down the stack from PaaS to IaaS, pundits were busy making arguments predicting doomsday scenario for PaaS future including this minor FUD. I am still convinced that PaaS is the future of Cloud Services and I will do a post later on the FUD that is going around on the topic. However, I am still excited about Google’s infrastructure play. Let me highlight why it is the case below.
- Even if PaaS is the future of Cloud Services and Google wants to be a PaaS player, any inaction in the infrastructure space will let Amazon and Microsoft have competitive advantage whenever the world moves to PaaS. It is critical for Google’s long term future that they put brakes on Amazon’s infrastructure market share and Microsoft’s attempts to take a slice there. When the world moves to PaaS, the dominant infrastructure services player will have a better chance of competing in the market than Google and, more importantly, the very idea of PaaS will be defined by that dominant player. (Please note that I am using the term PaaS here to denote application development platforms and not platform services in general). In this context, Google’s move is important in long term.
- The future of application consumption is shifting from the consumption of monolithic applications to more of services. I have been pushing this transition and the need for iterating PaaS to meet these needs for some time now. In fact, if you want to really understand how this services based future might look, check out this opening keynote by Mike Hoskins, CTO of Pervasive Software. Mike did a great job highlighting where we are headed in the next 5-10 years. If you agree with this worldview, you will also agree that Google is well positioned to serve the needs of this data driven world and this move to infrastructure services is essential to compete in such a data driven world. Even Google’s own offerings like Android phone, tablets, Google Glasses along with self driving cars and smart cities, will require a platform at scale which only Google can provide. If you take this long view, this infrastructure play can be seen as one of the pieces for this long term strategy.
- As a follow-up to the above two points, it should be noted that network latency and performance issues are going to push platforms to be around where data resides and it is absolutely critical for Google to ensure that the services that generate data today are on their infrastructure.
- Even on the infrastructure side of the things, I have been pushing the idea of federated cloud ecosystem for a long time. Even though such a federated cloud infrastructure market will have many players, it will be dominated by a few big players. I am sure Google definitely wants their slice of this pie.
In short, Google Compute Engine is very much needed for the market and it will go a long way in ensuring that market remains competitive and end-users are empowered by the resulting rapid innovation.
Disclosure: Google gave all Google I/O press/analyst attendees (including me) a Google Nexus Phone, Google Nexus 7 tablet and Google Nexus Q for evaluation purposes.