Google Cloud Platform: features and review of the platform

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Steven L. Ken
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As is well known, Cloud technology is literally revolutionizing the approach of many companies (and individuals) to information systems. In this article we will focus on Google Cloud Platform, a service based on the “cloud” which, to date, represents one of the most accredited rivals of AWS (Amazon Web Services). The latter can be considered the industry leader, thanks to the incredible versatility of the offer set up by the e-commerce giant. And this is the key to a good cloud service.


Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has come a little behind AWS. The Mountain View company has never had much experience in IT services for large enterprises. For this reason, he spent several years “studying” the subject, and then offered his proposal to the market.


 

GCP was not intended as an AWS clonebut rather as a platform that provides services on a large scale, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. The benefits of the Big G solution include attractive pricing (thanks to a discount on extended use), a much faster network connecting its datacenters, real-time migration of virtual machines and a variety of redundant backups to ensure a storage always available. However, this is not a perfect service and, as we will see, there are certainly areas in which to improve.

What is Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform, offered by Google, is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products, such as Google Search, Gmail, file storage, and YouTube. It is the classic example of cloud as part of a larger suite of applications, with particular reference to companies. The strength of the Mountain View company's solution is in fact precisely that of being able to communicate directly with services designed for the consumer market.



The benefits of the Google cloud

The benefits of using Google Cloud Platform are manifold. For this reason we have identified macro technical categories in which, thanks to the approach operated by the Mountain View company, this service is able to offer something more than the competition:


  • the service, completely scalable, does not require initial investments (the cost charged corresponds to the actual use);
  • the infrastructure available to users is the same that Google uses to offer its services (Youtube, Gmail and search network);
  • the backbone of the fiber optic network on which the infrastructure rests is one of the most advanced, fast and scalable (one of the cables passes through the Pacific Ocean);
  • the data loaded into the system is redundant thanks to automatic mirroring on different devices;
  • hardware and software are at the forefront thanks to constant updates (the infrastructure uses innovative software such as MapReduce, BigTable, Dremel, Spanner and Flume).

Characteristics of the cloud

Having made these necessary premises, let's move on to analyze the intrinsic characteristics of Google Cloud Platform, so as to fully understand the logic with which this service was structured.



Calculation

Google has built a massive data center infrastructure designed for scalability and minimal response times. This has resulted in a cloud offering that can process over 100.000 events per second or handle operations with a total aggregate event payload size superiore a 100 MB/sec. An enormous computing capacity, which opens up to the most varied uses in the business environment.


Also because Google Cloud Platform can count on over 100 points of presence in 15 global regions connected by dedicated fiber optic networks. With Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) you can connect your GCP resources or isolate them from each other. Through the Cloud Delivery Network (CDN) the content is distributed through points of presence at the edge and the Cloud Load Balancing service can prevent the overload of a location by balancing HTTP (S), TCP / SSL and UDP traffic.

Google's Cloud Load Balancing is the same used by the search engine and manages up to 1 million queries per second. Finally, there is Google Cloud Dedicated Interconnect for connecting private clouds with GCP; this service provides enterprise-grade connections to GCP with a transmission capacity of 10 to 80 Gbps.

Storage/Disco

The storage part consists of Cloud Datastore (to save NoSQL non-relational data), Cloud SQL (to manage MySQL relational databases) and Cloud Storage (a durable and highly available storage service). In general, this is a vision of cloud storage as part of a larger suite of web applications. In this sense, the concrete example is certainly Google Drive, now merged into the Google One suite. The latter, in addition to Gmail and Calendar, also offers Documents (the equivalent of Word), Sheets (the equivalent of Excel), Presentations (the equivalent of Power Point), Hongout, just to name a few. All services that exploit cloud storage for proper functioning, guaranteeing the end user (private or company) a perfect complementarity.

Network

From high performance options such as Dedicated Interconnect e Partner Interconnect, the Cloud VPN, suitable for lower volumes, up to direct peering options and with operators, the Google Cloud hybrid connectivity solutions are able to satisfy most of the needs present on the cloud infrastructure market.

Network Connectivity Center offers the ability to easily connect on-premise networks, Google Cloud and other corporate cloud networks and manage them as spokes through a single centralized hub on Google Cloud. It can also be provisioned, using Google's global network. The VPC network includes a granular selection of IP address ranges, routes, firewalls, virtual private networks (Cloud VPN), and Cloud routers.

Cloud DNS it is also a scalable, programmable and managed DNS (Domain Name System) service, running on the same infrastructure as the Mountain View company. Cloud DNS converts domain names like www.google.com to IP addresses like 74.125.29.101. In this way, using the simple proprietary interface, it is possible to publish and manage millions of zones and DNS records.

Finally, Service Directory provides a single place to publish, discover and connect all application services, reducing operational and management complexity. This allows you to improve inventory management at scale and gain real-time service information, whether you have a few endpoints or thousands.

Safety

With regard to identity and security, both essential requirements in the use of the "cloud" (both in the business and in the private sphere), the services of Google Cloud Platform are divided into tools such as Cloud Key Management for the management of symmetric and asymmetric encryption keys, as well as in services for the identification, classification and protection of sensitive data (Cloud Data Loss Prevention).

To all this is added a specific platform compliance model which, taking into account geographical differences, ensures that the management of data privacy is compliant, for example, to the US HIPAA directive or the European GDPR directive. A significant advantage.

Pricing: how much does Google Cloud cost

You can activate one free trial of Google Cloud Platform worth $ 300 per 90 days. In this sense, all you need is a Gmail account and a credit card or another payment method among those accepted by the Mountain View company. In this time interval it is possible to test one or more products such as Compute Engine, Cloud Storage o BigQuery. Obviously, in the event that the amount of the credit of $ 300 is spent before the 90 days, the trial is considered concluded. You can consult all the details on the free trial version on the official page.

In order to calculate the actual cost of GCP services, Google makes available the Cloud Pricing Calculator. A real customizable calculator with which, by selecting the type of service, the related items, the number of instances and location of the data center, you can obtain an overall estimate of the costs of the service based on your specific needs.

Business Goals: When to Use the Amazon AWS Cloud

Everything therefore depends on the specific needs. The market in fact offers a myriad of solutions and, among these, the most important alternative to GPC is certainly represented by AWS (Amazon Web Services, as mentioned at the beginning). The e-commerce giant has its "historic" leadership in providing cloud computing services to businesses and enterprises. Its strong point is certainly the support and availability service by region for the simple fact of having several more data centers in the world: not a foregone conclusion if we think that proximity to a data center can be decisive in terms of speed performance, and we all know how fast service can make a difference (think for example of online purchases).

Thanks to market leadership, the AWS it alone covers almost 50% of the market, and it is really the company that paved the way for the cloud market: the solutions offered were in fact the direct inspiration for those of the closest competitors. There are about 200 solutions in all: 4 times those of GCP, more or less (even if Google is starting to cover the distances at a really incremental speed).

Conclusions

Google Cloud Platform and so one of the best cloud services currently available on the market. The possibility of a free trial is a significant plus, considering how this allows you to test its functionality in the field (an important detail, especially in the business environment). The Mountain View company has been constantly improving their service over the past few years and to date is one of the best ever. With all due respect to the direct competitors who, in some cases, cannot count on the same ecosystem.

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