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Cloud Native/NFV

Google Takes Fight to Amazon, Microsoft & Cisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google Cloud Next '17 -- Amazon and Microsoft are the guys Google has to beat in the cloud, and Google came out swinging Thursday. And it threw some punches at Cisco too.

Against Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), Google introduced new pricing options designed to beat the market leader on cost and simplicity.

And against Microsoft, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) introduced services to host Windows and other Microsoft server software on the Google cloud, looking to beat Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Azure at its own game.

Additionally, Google introduced updates to G Suite, taking aim at Microsoft Office 365, Slack and Cisco Spark.

As with the keynote delivered by Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google Cloud, on Wednesday, Urs Hölzle, Google senior vice president of technical infrastructure, was clearly trash-talking AWS, without actually naming the competition, when he talked about Google's flexible pricing. (See Google's Greene Swipes Amazon Over Outage.)

Cloud users waste an average 45% of their spending on resources they bought and can't use, he said.

"Three-year leases force you to predict your future perfectly," Hölzle said. "Let's face it -- none of us can do that, so you're faced with stranded resources you can't use." Users have to pay for resources in fixed server sizes, and have to pay by hourly increments when they often need minutes.

Infrastructure Boss
Urs Holzle, Google senior vice president of technical infrastructure, rocks a Henley shirt.
Urs Hölzle, Google senior vice president of technical infrastructure, rocks a Henley shirt.

To improve pricing flexibility, Google introduced automatic sustained use discounts three years ago. For example, as VM usage approaches a full month, monthly discounts kick in automatically. Google provides incremental virtual machine upgrades; users don't have to double cores and RAM just to get a little more capacity.

"On custom machine types, you can dial in exactly the type of configuration you need," Hölzle said. And Google offers per-minute, rather than hourly billing.

As part of the new flexibility, Google launched Google Cloud Functions in public beta on Thursday -- a so-called "serverless" environment, for users to build services without managing virtual or real infrastructure.

"It's the smallest unit of compute offered by GCP and is able to spin up a single function and spin it back down instantly. Because of this, billing occurs only while the function is executing, metered to the nearest one hundred milliseconds," Brian Stevens, vice president of cloud platform, said on the Google Cloud Platform Blog.

"GCP and only GCP is truly an elastic cloud," Hölzle said. "Only buy what you need, don't pay for what you don't need."

Optimizing and controlling spending is a problem in the cloud for 53% of cloud users -- but not with Google Cloud Platform, Hölzle said. "You don't need to create an entire new ministry in the company just to get your best price" -- another dig at Amazon, for which enterprises hire specialists just to manage pricing. "Our flexible pricing structure lets you enjoy the cloud as it was meant to be, on demand, pay-as-you-go."

Later, Google gave Amazon a break and turned its attention to Microsoft, with plans to support Windows and Microsoft application servers on Google Cloud. Google wants to go beyond Linux and open source.

"Our goal is to not just be an OK Windows platform. We want to be a great Windows platform, perhaps the best Windows platform," Stevens said in a keynote Thursday morning. Google supports SQL Server and Active Directory on the cloud, and announced support for SQL Server Enterprises, beta support for .Net core and a partner program to help enterprises migrate Windows to Google Cloud.

Additionally, Google upgraded G Suite, targeting Microsoft Office 365, Cisco Webex and upstart Slack. Google introduced Hangouts Meet for enterprise video meetings, and Hangouts Chat for online messaging.

It announced that Jamboard, its digital whiteboard will be available in May, priced about $5,000 retail, plus a $600 annual management and support fee, with early adopter discount available. Cisco has its own digital whiteboard offering, Spark Board. (See Cisco Looks to Take the Pain out of Meetings.)

Third-party developers will be able to integrate apps into Gmail, Google said Thursday. For example, the company demonstrated filling out an Intuit Quickbooks invoice from inside Gmail.

The company upgraded its Google Vault repository for archiving G Suite data for regulatory and legal purposes adding support for Google Drive, newly launched Team Drives and Google Groups.


Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.


And speaking of Google Drive, the company upgraded the file repository with enterprise features including Team Drives for collaboration.

And Google announced it's acquiring AppBridge, a tool to help organizations migrate from on-premises, cloud-based and hybrid file servers and content management systems, like Microsoft SharePoint, to Google Drive.

Overall, at this year's Next conference, Google seems committed to showing that it's an enterprise player -- albeit a new one, with relatively small market share. Last year, Google seemed to just want to prove it's serious about the enterprise cloud; this year, it's demanding to be taken seriously as well. (See Google: Still the New Kid in Enterprise Cloud and Google: 'Dead Serious' About Enterprise Cloud. )

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

ak22 3/30/2017 | 5:49:31 PM
Re: New year, new features and such They hsve a lot of ground to make up. Then again, if anyone can do it, it's Google.
[email protected] 3/15/2017 | 1:01:26 PM
Re: New year, new features and such Agreed in times of tight budgeting that is a huge waste and most importantly a grave miscalculation of needs. The savings are tremendous and the opportunity to impact other areas of the business with the saved resources.
kq4ym 3/15/2017 | 10:18:27 AM
Re: New year, new features and such Playing up the flexible pricing feature just may very well win over some, citing "Cloud users waste an average 45% of their spending on resources they bought," will be something that will certainly catch the attention of manager watching their budgets closely. Look for even more Google's cloud advantages cited in coming presentations I would say.
242ak 3/14/2017 | 11:10:34 AM
Re: New year, new features and such That's extraordinary! So not much less than half of all $$ on cloud is lying unused?
Ariella 3/14/2017 | 10:10:06 AM
Re: New year, new features and such <Cloud users waste an average 45% of their spending on resources they bought and can't use, he said.> That's a very significant chunk. It doesn't really fit with a lean business plan.
Michelle 3/11/2017 | 7:31:14 PM
New year, new features and such Great rundown of Next. I missed a lot of coverage of this year's event. It's really interesting to watch Google compete. I'm surprised it's taken so long to add some of the enterprise features announces, however. 
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