During the last Google I/O, Google’s user conference, Google announced Google Compute Engine (GCE). GCE was Google’s answer to Amazon EC2 and they opened up their private beta to handful of people. I was not lucky enough to get into the list but I recently got an opportunity to check it out myself. Before I talk about why Google Compute Engine is interesting, I also want to point out an article on Infoworld where they highlight some of the features that makes GCE attractive. They are:
- Competitive pricing
- Slick web interface
- Pretty good collection of Google services
During the recent OpenStack Conference at San Diego, I had a chance to bump into Sebastian Stadil, Founder and CEO of Scalr. We started discussing generally about service provider market and then, specifically, about Google Compute Engine. Sebastian told me that they are pretty impressed with the performance of Google Compute Engine that they may even completely move to the service when it is publicly available. He told me that the latency between two different regions are almost non existent (of course, taking into account the limitations imposed by Physics). For example, you could experience “zero latency effect” (double quotes used to account for limitations imposed by physics) between a region in US East and Asia. Their investment in dedicated fibre optics network is helping them achieve this level of performance. This opens up interesting possibilities in software development and one could achieve not just superior performance unavailable in public cloud providers like Amazon and others but also be able to achieve highest levels of reliability without any performance impact. This is truly amazing and it is going to fundamentally change our perception on public cloud services.
I also had a chance to heck out their interface which was very Google like. When I created an instance, it was created in less than 10 seconds and was available and ready to go in less than 30 seconds. Compare this with almost 2-3 minute delay (at times even more) in AWS and other public cloud services. Similarly, when I tried to mount a volume, I could do it INSTANTLY. Nope, this is not happening because Google has a dedicated pool for GCE private beta customers. In fact, GCE runs in Google data centers with other services like search, Gmail, Youtube, etc.. Even when they open up the service to public, expect to achieve similar levels of performance.
I think Google is going to set the bar too high and completely change the expectations of users on the cloud performance. This is going to add considerable pressure on other cloud service providers (including AWS which doesn’t seem to have necessary infrastructure to offer performance comparable to Google, especially in terms of not having direct fibre connection between their data centers). This is going to fundamentally change the way we compute in the cloud and take the innovation to the next level. In this sense, Google Compute Engine is a true game changer.