What is Google Cloud Platform?

CloudHealth Tech Staff
Jul. 24, 2018
3 minute read

Google Cloud Platform is a suite of cloud computing services from which businesses can select the most appropriate services for their specific needs. Several factors distinguish Google Cloud Platform from other Cloud Services Providers, but it may not necessarily be the case these factors are what your business needs.

The origins of Google Cloud Platform date back to April 2008, when App Engine was launched—a Platform-as-a-Service tool that allowed developers to build and host web applications on Google's infrastructure. Despite the limitations of 500MB of storage, 200M megacycles of CPU, and 10GB of bandwidth per day—and having to write the applications in Python—the platform quickly became a playground for developers and SMBs.

Over the next few years, Google allowed developers to purchase additional compute resources above the previous ceiling, provided support for Java, and launched its Google Cloud Storage service. The company also announced a Google App Engine for Business in 2012, previewing a suite of features specifically designed for enterprise. However, what really caught the attention of businesses everywhere was the announcement in 2014 of price cuts up to 85%.


Google Becomes a Major Player in the Cloud

In recent years, Google has become a major player in the cloud due to extending its depth of developer tools, storage and database services, and the Google Compute Platform to include the Kubernetes Engine and Cloud Functions service. The company has invested heavily in new data centers to support its Internet of Things, Big Data and Cloud AI services, and in March 2017 acquired Kaggle—home to the world’s largest community of data scientists and machine learning enthusiasts.

Although not yet challenging the market share of its closest rivals Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, Sundar Pichai—CEO of Google's parent company Alphabet—claimed Google Cloud Platform was the fastest-growing public cloud service during a fourth-quarter earnings call in February 2018. Pichai also disclosed that the Google Cloud Platform and G-Suite software unit (a close competitor to Office 365) had combined fourth-quarter revenues in excess of $1 billion.

What Distinguishes Google Cloud Platform from other Cloud Platforms?

Several factors distinguish Google Cloud Platform from other Cloud Service Providers—most notably its Sustained Use billing structure. Sustained Use billing automatically discounts the “On Demand” hourly rate the more an instance is used during the month and is a game-changer compared with AWS' and Azure's discount options, as it requires neither commitment nor advanced payment.

Google Cloud Platform further distinguishes itself from other Cloud Service Providers with its option to create custom machine types. Custom machine types (VMs/Instances) allows for the largest amount of granular control over user-defined machine configurations, with businesses being able to select the optimal configurations for their workloads.

Google also has the upper hand in home-developed technologies such as Big Query, Big Table, and Hadoop; and offers a data archiving service at a price comparative to its market rivals, but with virtually no latency on recovery. However, what will possibly distinguish Google Cloud Platform from other cloud platforms more in the future is the company's commitment to Machine Learning technology which will result in Google providing AI chips to businesses for both training and executing neural networks.

Should Your Business Use Google Cloud Platform?

This depends on the roadmap for your business and what its long-term objectives are. Google Cloud Platform certainly has a number of strengths, but are they the strengths your business need? Fortunately, unless you are locked into a prepaid Reserved Instances plan or Enterprise Agreement, you can pick and choose any of Google's services to run alongside your existing on-premises infrastructure or cloud-based infrastructures to see what works best.

At present—and bearing in mind the cloud is a rapidly-changing environment—Google Cloud Platform is leading the way in developing and providing the services many people believe will influence the direction of the cloud in the next few years. This not only relates to the investment Google has made in Machine Learning, but also in the Internet of Things and blockchain technology—technology expected to revolutionize data integrity and security.