Google Cloud Update

We had a little get-together here in Austin today, sponsored by MomentumSI and hosted at Capital Factory (thanks to both!), to view the Google Cloud Platform newest product announcement webcast. About 24 local engineers showed up to watch.

You can view the whole thing yourself here, or just read my notes from the event.

Cloud Is Hard

Their thesis statement was that cloud, while cool, is still too hard for many people, hindering adoption or slowing innovation. So they’ve worked on making it easier.

Cost

Cost calculation is super complex (reserve, on demand, etc.). They talk about “other industry standard clouds” by which they mean Amazon Web Services. They note the drawbacks to reserved instances, which I am all totally in agreement on (see my earlier article Why Amazon Reserve Instances Torment Me for more on that). Specifically they note that reservations constrain your design choices, which is one of the great reasons to go to the cloud in the first place – Amen, brother!

Though cloud prices have been dropping 6-8% a year, hardware’s been dropping 20-30%. Why is Moore’s Law not translating into more sweet green in our pockets? It should, they contend. Thus, they are announcing on demand price drops:

  • GCE 32% price drop
  • Storage is now .026 cents/GB for any use
  • .02 c/GB for reduced durability storage
  • bigquery 85% reduction
  • can now purchase predictable throughput

Introducing sustained use discounts – no pre-plan or reserving ahead of time, instead prices automatically drop as VM usage is sustained over 25% of the month and then progressively from there. 100% use is a 53% discount over current (remember that includes the new 32% reduction, so another 21% from current for continued use). With linear machine cost scaling, makes it simple(r) to predict and calculate your costs.

Other Tradeoffs

Current cloud (hint: AWS) forces other tradeoffs: time to market vs scalability, flexibility (iaas) vs automatic management (paas), big data vs realtime data analysis.

But first, we interrupt our messaging to talk about other random new features based on customer feedback. To wit:

  • SuSE/Red Hat support
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (preview) support
  • Cloud DNS service, accessible via API and console

The features are nice but even nicer was that they implemented these based on customer feedback, which means they consider this a real product with real customers and not just a fun tech thing for their own ends (which to be fair 80% of Google’s offerings are, and it can be hard to tell the difference).

Time to Market vs Scalability

So on scaling… You need deployment! Troubleshooting! Use tools you know!
They have a new “gcloud” command line tool
“gcloud init” pulls down the app via git, you can just edit, git commit, git push
They have a build service integrated – it spins up a jenkins/maven and builds, deploys – you can see release status in the console.
There’s also a new unified logs viewer with basic searching – like Splunk junior, with one cool dev feature. Click on the code in the stack trace and you’re put directly into the code in the console’s source view. Fix and commit, it auto-builds, bam you’re fixed.

IaaS vs PaaS

A new halfway state – “managed VMs.” It’s the normal PaaS, but in the config, you can tell it things to apt-get install onto the instances, so you can have more third party software than the PaaS previously allowed.
Also, you can “enable debugging” on an instance and then log in interactively.

Big Data vs Realtime Data Analysis

They’ve upped BigQuery to have 100k rows/sec ingest.
Example Demo: smart monitoring of 60 events/hour from 400k glen canyon power meters (17bn events/mo), with about 128k records. They did a visualization that is updating in near real time showing all those meters geolocated and you can go click on them to get realtime data.
He showed the complex BigQuery “bigjoin” to filter by meter lat/long from sep table and then by quartile across whole population. “Doing this in NoSQL would be impossible or very slow.”

They will be doing a Google Cloud roadshow soon – see cloud.google.com/roadshow – it looks like Austin will be on the list of cities!

Analysis

The good thing about getting a bunch of techies together to view this was the discussion afterwards.  The general sentiment was that:

1. The cost drops are nice and the approach to reserve/sustained use instances is much better. The reserve instance scheme is one of the worst things about AWS and if this drives them to adopt the same model, hooray!

2. The other new features (managed VMs, gcloud) are definitely nice. They are focusing on dev friendliness in their discussion but it’s a lot less clear how to operate this. If you’re really trying to stitch together a bunch of micro-services there’s not a lot of great support for that. They talk about using their PaaS and say “of course, if you use our PaaS you don’t need to carry a pager! You’d only need to do that if you’re doing IaaS and maintaining your own OSes.” That is dangerously naive and really made the whole group skittish. Most people there have done “play” things in Google’s cloud but are reticent to put mission critical items there, and this section of the presentation didn’t do a lot to improve that.

3. The BigQuery/realtime demo was impressive and multiple people would like to kick the tires on it.

Overall – it was a little light, but it was a keynote; the new features/pricing are all good; this shows more Google commitment to their cloud as a product but actual concerns still linger about maturity and suitability for realistically complex revenue-generating production applications.

 

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