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Google Throws Hat into IaaS Ring

It's official: Google will offer an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud. The company launched Google Compute Engine at its annual Google I/O developer conference -- a move that was widely expected, though overshadowed by the announcement of the Nexus 7 tablet

By launching an IaaS, Google is taking on some large players like Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Verizon, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, which earlier this month launched its own long-anticipated IaaS service.

Like Microsoft, whose Windows Azure was just a platform as a service, Google's cloud portfolio other than its Google Apps service, was the Google App Engine PaaS. But in launching GCE, which is now in limited preview, Google is taking it slow. For now it's only offering Linux virtual machines (translate: no Windows) support. While there's plenty of demand for Linux, Google is still only reaching out to a limited segment of the enterprise market.

And will it play ball in supporting any of the other cloud vendors' platforms and APIs to enable portability with public, private and hybrid clouds? The IaaS market is fragmented with a variety of compute platforms such as OpenStack, CloudStack and of course Amazon. While these and other players such as Eucalyptus and Nimbula have services that let companies move instances from Amazon to other public and private clouds (as does Citrix CloudStack), we are a long way from removing true cloud lock-in as a barrier.

And vendor lock-in, according to a Rackspace-commissioned study released this week, is a key consideration by 86 percent of customers in choosing a cloud vendor. While Google has yet to make a strong public proclamation on where it stands with regard to IaaS portability (that is, will it join or support OpenStack or CloudStack efforts?) there are some aspects of GCE worth noting:

  • Google appears to be targeting compute-intensive workloads, particulary for compute-intensive applications requiring 100 virtual machines or more.

  • Customers can store their data locally, on a new persistent block storage device it is offering or via its existing Google Cloud Storage service.

  • GCE will offer networking capabilities to enable customers to create and manage their compute clusters.

  • Developers can either configure and control their VMs using a scriptable command-line tool or Web UI or use Google's APIs to build or link to a management system. Google has partnered with RightScale Puppet Labs, OpsCode, Numerate, Cligr and MapR, whose tools will integrate with GCE.

Craig McLuckie, the product manager for GCE said in a blog post that Google intends to use its vast infrastructure to power GCE. "This goes beyond just giving you greater flexibility and control," he noted. "Access to computing resources at this scale can fundamentally change the way you think about tackling a problem."

Do you think Google will emerge as a major IaaS player? What does it need to get there? Drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on June 29, 2012


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