So what's the difference between Google Compute Engine and Google App Engine?
GCE is a pure-play IaaS offering, providing hardware resources to customers on a pay-by-the-hour pricing model, whereas GAE is a platform for building applications. "Basically, with GCE we provide the uptime, the hardware, the pipes and the management, and users are responsible for the operating system and up -- when things get patched, what languages are used," Goldfarb says. "That's opposed to GAE, which takes these services one step further up the stack. In GAE users are relinquishing more control; we're defining the operating system, the platform, and maintaining it. This higher-value service provides users the ability to auto scale no matter the incoming load. Customers don't have to worry about patching or managing a server and they can focus solely on the code and the data running in that app."
What have been the most common use cases Google has seen for its Google Compute Engine through the beta phase?
GCE excels in high-performance computing at large scales with thousands, to tens of thousands of nodes with "incredibly fast throughput," Goldfarb says. Many media video processing, research and object coding functions have been completed on the IaaS offering through the beta stage thus far. Many customers come with multi-instance high-volume workloads: "We're not seeing a lot for single-server cloud instances and a small amount of traffic," he says. "That's where GAE tends to make more sense."
Are these offerings direct competitors to Amazon Web Services?
"Absolutely," Goldfarb says, and the rollout toward general availability has already begun. Google wants to continue working closely with customers who use GCE, though, which is why the company has released GCE in only a limited availability, with a required $400 per month service pack. "We still want to have a close relationship with customers," he says, to ensure they are happy and service needs are being met. The services are evolving rapidly, he adds, with monthly iterations both internally and externally and new updates on a weekly basis.
What's the roadmap for Google's cloud strategy?
The goal of these services is to expose the same hardware and platform that Google uses to run its own services -- from Gmail to YouTube -- and sell it as a service to customers, Goldfarb says. That means its powerful data infrastructure and analytics software will one day be exposed to customers. "We envision a world where everyone, both Google and its customer, is backended on the same Google data centers on a consistent set of APIs," he says.
Right now, though, the service is focused on migrating existing business applications to its cloud, and being the place where new "greenfield" applications are developed and hosted.
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