Compute Engine: Google’s Cloud Response to Amazon and Microsoft

Google is competing with Microsoft and Amazon in the field of cloud computing. The US giant promises outstanding performance, recalling that its infrastructure is already used to index the web. But according to industry experts, Compute Engine is handicapped by its US law contracts and the location of data centers across the Atlantic.

Google begins marketing its first cloud service worthy of the name, called Compute Engine. “In response to numerous requests from developers and companies (…) We are launching an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) solution that allows Linux virtual machines to run on the same infrastructure as Google uses ” , says Craig McLuckie , product manager Google Compute Engine.

Google already offered cloud services around storage (Google Cloud Storage), data analysis (Google BigQuery) and application execution (Google App Engine). But with Compute Engine, he intends to “go one step further” , offering a real service on the Iaas mode.

This type of cloud is very flexible and allows the client to manage itself virtual servers whose configuration it chooses, from the number of cores of the processors to the memory, via the operating system. The client can then run virtual machines and host the services of his choice. It is opposed to PaaS (Platform as a Service), which offers customers to transfer their applications in the cloud on a limited infrastructure, largely managed by the provider.

Microsoft and Amazon .com have also selected Iaas for their cloud services. The Microsoft Azure platform has recently evolved to allow Linux virtual machines to run . As for Amazon.com, its Cloud EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) offer has always been based on this formula. In the case of Google Compute Engine, it is the Ubuntu or CentOS distributions that are proposed.

Harness the performance of the Google infrastructure

Performance is Google’s main business argument for its cloud service. With Compute Engin, the customer exploits part of Google’s infrastructure, the very one that allows the internet giant to run its services. “At Google, we provide huge computing operations every day, such as web-based indexing, or the response to billions of daily search queries , ” continues McLuckie.

Google also insists on the availability of the service and in particular the optimization of the bandwidth to access it. “Many of you have learned to live with erratic performance for the cloud (…) we have advanced network connections that allow to know no interruptions,” says Google.

Except a priori, these technical promises are not guaranteed. “The performance of Google’s infrastructure is undeniable, but the contracts of this type of large-scale Cloud services never include performance guarantees or availability” , tempers Olivier Beaudet, CEO of Claranet, European specialist Internet services for companies (outsourcing, hosting & managed networks). “And if for one reason or another, the service provider needs all the power of its infrastructure, it will use it as a priority.”

No European location

Compute Engine is currently available in “limited preview”, explains Google. That is to say, the service is not yet fully framed, especially from the point of view of its access to the international. Google offers only US law contracts for its new service. And the data centers used to deliver it are based across the Atlantic. It is not excluded that this situation is changing. Google has announced that its App Engine service could now be located on European servers , if the customer requested it.

But for now, Compute Engine does not benefit from this option, which is of course a serious problem for its adoption in Europe. Recall that the main fears of European companies vis-à-vis the Cloud relate precisely to the location of data centers outside the EU .

Google Cloud Response to Amazon and Microsoft

“The US contract and the non-localization of data in Europe, are a contractual obstacle to the adoption of services such as Google in Europe and especially in France,” said Jean-Luc Dagron, Executive Director “Infrastructure Consulting & Cloud Services “SSII Osiatis, a leader in infrastructure services in France.

He recalls that if the data are hosted in the United States , they are covered by the Patriot Act that allows a US company to access it in case of risks related to terrorism. In addition, the European Directive 95/46 / EC of 1995 prohibits the transfer of personal data outside the European Union , which can be problematic for a company that can not control the transfers made by its cloud provider.

A service unsuited to certain needs

Same sound at Claranet. “The location outside of Europe poses many problems, in addition to legal considerations, the customer may have problems with network latency and in any case, it will not have technical support or local business contacts” , concludes Olivier Beaudet.

According to Claranet, services such as Google’s are aimed at companies with a specific need to develop or test IT solutions or launch large calculations. But to host internal services such as compatibility or business applications important for the company, they are not suitable.

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