The cloud computing race ramps up with Google Compute Engine

The Google Compute Engine release signals a major push by big tech companies to capture the growing demand for cloud services.

Chris Helgren/Reuters
The data collection and distribution business is booming.

When Netflix decided to move their computing to the cloud, it turned to Amazon Web Services, whose infrastructure now supports all of Netflix’s information technology services (which supports upward of 4 billion hours of streaming video every three months). When technology company 3M wanted to run an image analysis that tells companies how successful their marketing videos and images are, it turned to Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service, to host its service.

Faced with expensive computing price tags attached to building specialized computer networks for extensive tech projects, more and more companies and start-ups are turning to big tech companies to host their projects for them.

Now Google is joining the corporate cloud computing game. The tech company announced in a blog post Monday that Google Compute Engine, its cloud-computing service, is now available to the public.

Google Compute Engine originally debuted a year and a half ago, but the pilot program only worked with select clients. Now the company announced it is fully open for business, allowing any firm to take advantage of Google's heavy computing power.

The announcement on Google’s Developer blog says the product guarantees high-volume projects will remain working 99.95 percent of the time. The company is also slashing prices on its various services by as much as 60 percent to make them more competitive. 

“Google Cloud Platform gives developers the flexibility to architect applications with both managed and unmanaged services that run on Google’s infrastructure,” writes Ari Balogh, Google’s vice president of cloud platforms. “We’ve been working to improve the developer experience across our services to meet the standards our own engineers would expect here at Google.”

Already, several companies have used the product with positive results.

“We find that Compute Engine scales quickly, allowing us to easily meet the flow of new sequencing requests,” writes David Schlesinger, CEO of Mendelics, a Brazilian molecular diagnostics company, on the Google blog post. "Compute Engine has helped us scale with our demands and has been a key component to helping our physicians diagnose and cure genetic diseases in Brazil and around the world."

Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon already allow companies who are looking for extra computing power to rent out resources. This has made cloud computing popular with tech start-ups, who don't have to be as limited by the high price of building a computer network while still showcasing a complex technical product. Snapchat, for example, turned to Google's cloud since the company is already operating on slim profit margins.

However, cloud computing is a complicated piece of technology that requires vast data storage and processing ability that may keep the profitable power in the hands of big tech companies. The New York Times points out that all major tech companies that host public clouds say this isn’t something the average developer could put together.

“We’re giving people the same services we rely on to run Google,” says Greg DeMichillie, director of Google’s public cloud platform. “I wouldn’t say spending billions of dollars doesn’t matter, but there is a learning by doing in this, too; hard information problems we’ve tackled.”

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