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Amazon in the crosshairs of Google and Microsoft

Tablet and cloud announcements seem directly aimed at Amazon

By , Network World
July 05, 2012 03:44 PM ET

Network World - It's been a busy past few weeks for Amazon and its competitors.

At the recent Google I/O Conference in California, the leading Internet search company made two moves that seem to be in direct competition with the leading e-commerce and cloud provider: Amazon.

On the hardware end, Google's Nexus 7 tablet seems squarely aimed at not the leading tablet on the market, the Apple iPad, but rather the cheaper Kindle Fire, made by Amazon.

Meanwhile, up in the clouds, Google is making an equally aggressive play targeting Amazon Web Service customers with the announcement of Google Compute Engine (GCE), an infrastructure-as-a-service offering that goes head-to-head with AWS's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The Linux virtual machines that make up GCE also complement Google App Engine (GAE), the company's platform as a service (PaaS), where developers can build and host customized applications.

"Google is hoping to sneak developers away from AWS by offering them compute in the same place they get access to GAE and other tools, which are quite popular," says Carl Brooks, an analyst at Tier1 Research and the 451 Group.

The moves from Google follow announcements made by Microsoft, when the tech titan released its own tablet, named Surface, and extended an infrastructure-as-a-service offering on top of its Azure platform. To cap it all off, AWS suffered a service disruption caused by an electrical storm and ensuing power outage.

The moves add up to a heating of the cloud marketplace, and vendors increasingly offering products and services aimed at AWS's stronghold. "The market and the various technologies are still immature and there is a lot of room to move for tech firms," Brooks says.

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Typical of many Google product rollouts, the Compute Engine offering is available only in preview mode for select users. But pricing and technical specifications seem to put it in competition with AWS. A single virtual core from GCE comes with 3.25GB of memory with 420GB of local disk space for $0.145 per hour. Amazon's smallest Linux instance comes with 1.7GB of memory and 160GB of local storage for $0.08 per hour. For larger instances, GCE's eight-core offering comes with 30GB of memory and 2x1770GB of local storage for $1.16 per hour. AWS's extra-large instance comes with 15GB, 1690GB of local disk space and is priced at $0.64 per hour. Microsoft Azure's base-level VMs start at $0.013 per hour, but only include 768MB of RAM. Networking fees are extra for each of the services.

AWS already has a broad spectrum of supporting capabilities on its cloud platform, such as Simple Storage Service (S3), database services, such as Dynamo DB and Relational Database Service (RDS), as well as high-performance computing and application hosting. To build out the feature set in the Compute Engine, Google has also inked partnerships with other cloud providers to offer services that will give it standing against AWS. Cloud automation and migration tools such as Puppet Labs, RightScale, Opscode and CliQr were announced as initial Google partners, while MapR, a big data analytics tool, and Numerate, which specializes in cloud computing for the biotechnology industry, were also named as partners.

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