Google puts Amazon on notice with new Cloud Platform features

Google Cloud Platform now includes revamped pricing, better testing and deployment tools, and expanded VM support -- all to displace Amazon

Google wants you to know that cloud computing will not be a one-horse race. Today's announcements at the Google Cloud Platform Live event hammered that notion home and seemed designed to put Amazon and other cloud vendors on notice.

The broad spectrum of changes announced for Google Cloud Platform revolved around a few basic sentiments: simplify the pricing structure of cloud computing; make it easier for developers to use the tools they're familiar and comfortable with; allow for easier (and cheaper) work with large amounts of data; and give developers the freedom to run their App Engine apps in IaaS-style VMs without sacrificing manageability.

Many of these changes were presented as how Google could help its users avoid making painful choices -- that is, you shouldn't have to choose between either flexibility of deployment or manageability, or between having an up-to-date infrastructure and having long-running VMs for the sake of your users.

Developers, developers, developers
Never stand between a developer and his (or her) chosen toolset. Google seems to have heard the message, as the latest set of developer-centered features for Cloud Platform revolve around tools and workflow rather than support for new languages.

Chief among those changes is integration with both Git and GitHub, so projects can be synchronized with either a local repository or one hosted on GitHub (public or private). Changes committed with Git are automatically built and tested, and logs generated across all instances are aggregated in one place for easy searching. Stack traces generated by errors link directly to the line of code responsible, which can be edited in-browser.

Another major new feature for developers helps them avoid another uncomfortable dilemma: Should a developer pick App Engine for the sake of getting something running now, or go with a full VM for flexibility? Managed VMs purport to offer the best of both worlds: A developer can take an existing App Engine app and deploy it to a managed VM with only a few changes to the app manifest. Cloud Platform also is expanding support for Compute Engine machine instance types to include Windows Server 2008 R2 (in limited preview for now), Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Suse Linux Enterprise Server.

Google also introduced the ability to live-migrate running VMs to different hardware with no noticeable interruption of service. Unfortunately, there was a stroke of inadvertent irony in the presentation: Just as Google's team finished demonstrating the live migration of an app streaming 1080p video, the YouTube video stream hosting the presentation went offline for minutes on end. (Speculation ran rampant in the comments section for the stream if YouTube was itself being live-migrated.)

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