Google slashed prices for its cloud-computing services, revving up competition with rival Amazon Web Services and setting the stage for a more general price war in the cloud.
At the company’s Google Cloud Platform conference in San Francisco, the company announced a 68% price cut for its cloud storage service and a 32% cut for Google Compute Engine, which runs major computing jobs for customers on virtual machines. The cost of using Google’s BigQuery system, which performs Big Data analysis, has likewise dropped by 85%.
Amazon snatched an early lead in the race to provide true on-demand compute power for business customers, leaving competitors such as Microsoft and Google to play a serious game of catch-up. Google has so far been much further behind, and now appears to be taking a tack familiar to underdogs everywhere—cut prices faster and farther than anyone else.
Google has made its cloud development tools more accessible and flexible than ever, said Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure. Hölzle noted that cloud prices haven’t dropped as quickly as Moore’s Law, and said Google’s aggressive moves are intended to bring the cost of cloud computing in line with the declining cost of computing hardware.
Google intends its Cloud Platform to serve as an online repository of tools that companies need for powering their business. So far, Amazon has reigned over this market, attracting big corporate customers across a swathe of industries. These are the kinds of companies with tens of thousands of employees that need access to a wide array of business applications.
Google is at a decided disadvantage in this particular area. It seems to be trying to make up for it by courting developers instead of IT managers or CIOs.
Changing How Companies Buy Software
One of Google’s tactics for competing with the likes of Amazon and even the Microsoft Azure cloud system involves extending its consumer-friendly image to encompass its ecosystem of supposedly easy-to-use and easy-to-scale tools. Those words don’t always go together in the development world, but it’s a theme Hölzle, a Googler since 1999, struck throughout his presentation.
“Google Cloud Platform is now available for everyone to use and to deploy apps to every device,” Hölzle said. “We’re investing heavily in it. It’s early days, but we see a clear path for making developers more productive.”
In addition to its price cuts, Google announced new features such as sustained use discounts for customers whose need for computing services doesn’t vary wildly. Companies that use more or less the same amount of compute power over the course of a month will see lower prices compared to those that experience usage spikes.
Google also announced what it is calling managed virtual machines. These are designed to offer more flexibility for developers who want to use other tools besides those Google already offers—specifically, though not exclusively, open source tools. Developers have been clamoring for support for various Linux-based operating systems and even Windows Server applications, said Greg DeMichille, the director of product management for Google Cloud Platform.
Lead image by Flickr user Robert Scoble, CC 2.0