Google takes on Amazon with Compute Engine cloud service

Google has Amazon in its sights. The Mountain View, California company has announced Google Compute Engine, its answer to Amazon's Elastic Compute (EC2) service. While the company currently only offers its cloud platform in limited preview, it is likely wider availability will come in short order, likely later this year.

Google will provide customers with virtual machines in 1,2,4, and 8 core-configurations running Linux. Each virtual machine will come with 3.75GB of RAM per virtual core, and storage is provided through Google's new persistent block device, or its newly announced Google Cloud Storage product.

A standard single-core virtual machine will cost $0.145 per hour, while an eight-core unit costs $1.16. Outbound transfer costs range from $0.08-0.12 per gigabyte to American and European destinations dependent on total monthly data transfer, while transfer to the Asia Pacific region costs $0.15-0.21 per GB. Provisioned disk space is billed at $0.10 per GB.

"This goes beyond just giving you greater flexibility and control; access to computing resources at this scale can fundamentally change the way you think about tackling a problem", Google Compute Engine project manager Craig McLuckie says.

The sheer amount of resources available to customers is said to be astounding: Google claims it will offer access to 50 percent more resources than its rivals. Just for some perspective, in the keynote Thursday morning announcing the product, a live ticker showed some 700,000+ cores available for use by customers. One of its early beta testers, the Institute for Systems Biology, was using the power of about 600,000 of those cores to run a genome application.

"Whether you need a platform like Google App Engine, or virtual machines like Google Compute Engine, these days, you define your limits", McLuckie adds. "We’re just at the start of what the cloud can do".

Google Compute Engine will work immediately with products from RightScale, Puppet Labs, OpsCode, Numerate, CliQr and MapR. Google-backed CliQr launched its cloud management platform on Tuesday, which allows for the migration of legacy apps to the cloud, and from cloud platform to cloud platform -- including Amazon.

It's not too far fetched to assume that Google is hoping some customers of Amazon Web Services will use CliQr to migrate their cloud apps to Compute Engine.

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