Google's primary infrastructure architect Urs Holzle on Thursday at the company's developers conference announced the Google Compute Engine, or infrastructure-as-a-service, a move that brings it into more direct competition with market leader Amazon Web Services. Until now, Google has not offered plain vanilla, cloud compute power as a service. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) thus far has been the undisputed province of Amazon Web Services, with Rackspace, SoftLayer, and other would-be competitors trying to gain market share.
But Google has always had the means to compete in that market, having built data centres in strategic locations around the world to use as a springboard into IaaS. Google will manage all scalability and performance issues for users of Compute Engine, letting businesses and independent software developers gain the benefit of Google's "decade of experience in building and running Google search engine data centres."
Google already has one the largest worldwide networks of data centres with strong networking connections between them. That may become a distinguishing point between Google and Amazon, which also has data centres around the world but is just starting to offer connections between them. Based on its approach to platform-as-a-service, Google can be expected emphasize the resiliency and lack of downtime of its approach to infrastructure.
Amazon, however, offers infrastructure for both Windows and Linux workloads. In addition, Google Compute Engine will host virtual machines running only Linux workloads.
Holzle said Compute Engine will deliver "up to 50% more value" than other IaaS providers without specifically naming any competitors. In addition to Amazon, Rackspace, SoftLayer, and Hosting.com offer IaaS, along with more business-oriented suppliers such as Terremark and Savvis.
Compute Engine is available immediately in "limited preview," meaning it doesn't yet qualify as a full-fledged product. Google will limit how many users may sign up for the service. No date for general availability has been named.