The cloud wars continue. This week, Google has opened up its cloud-based Compute Engine, added greater performance, and dropped pricing in order to better compete with Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said prices for the most popular standard Compute Engine instances would be lowered by 10 percent for all regions. In addition, the price of the company's high-end Persistent Disk service for storage is being lowered by 60 percent per gigabyte, while I/O charges for the service are also being reduced.
The Compute Engine is the company's virtual machine technology, enabling applications to run on the company's infrastructure. Compute Engine had been in Preview since it was launched 18 months ago, and, until now, was only available for selected clients. During the pilot phase, the Compute Engine supported only the Debian and Centos Linux distributions, which were customized with a Google-built kernel. Now, Compute Engine will run any Linux distribution as well as any kernel.
The company is also announcing "transparent maintenance" that can perform necessary updates and testing without requiring downtime or reboots from virtual machines. If there is a failure, Google said, it will automatically restart the virtual machines and have them online in minutes.
More computational power and memory is also being made available, which Google said in a posting on its Cloud Platform blog could be required for applications ranging from "silicon simulation to running high-scale NoSQL databases." The company said it was offering three new instance types in Limited Preview, providing up to 16 cores and 104 GB of memory.
In its announcement, Google noted that Compute Engine has helped a variety of corporate clients build and maintain complete systems, such as a molecular diagnostics company in Brazil called Mendelics. CEO David Schlesinger said in a statement that Compute Engine "scales quickly, allowing us to easily meet the flow of new sequencing requests" in order to help doctors diagnose and cure genetic diseases in Brazil and elsewhere.
'Amazon in Its Crosshairs'
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, noted that, even as Google is taking steps that "obviously have Amazon in its crosshairs," IBM has been upping its cloud game. In the summer, IBM bought global hosting service SoftLayer for a reported $2 billion, and Big Blue has recently been running a campaign pointing to its readiness for enterprises, such as offering cloud services running on dedicated hardware.
King added that Amazon's strength in cloud services has mostly been oriented toward "small companies, workgroups and departments," and enterprise-readiness is clearly one of the battlefronts. But IBM and Microsoft start with a foot in the door, he pointed out, because of the longstanding use of their software and services by large businesses.
Cloud services for application development and ongoing business use, King said, "is getting to be a very interesting market."