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Google Compute Engine vs. Amazon Web Services cloud: The battle is on

And don't forget about Microsoft

By , Network World
December 03, 2013 04:11 PM ET

Network World - With news this week that Google Compute Engine cloud is now generally available, the battle in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service market has hit a new level. The biggest question is: Can Google give the kingpin of the public IaaS market, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a run for its money?

In some ways, not a whole lot has changed - Google’s Compute Engine has actually been on the market for more than a year, including being available to anyone for months. But becoming generally available is important, Google executive Greg DeMichillie says: It confirms the company’s internal and external commitment to GCE - meaning that it will stick around for the foreseeable future, unlike some other popular Google products that have been cut.

[FIRST LOOK: Google Compute Engine vs. Amazon Web Services]

[MORE GOOGLE: Google takes the wrappers off Compute Engine]

This news could also be marking a new phase in the cloud computing industry, says Gartner analyst Lydia Leong in a blog post she wrote about GCE becoming generally available. “I think the GA of GCE is a demarcation of market eras,” she wrote. “We’re now moving into a second phase of this market, and things only get more interesting from here onwards.”

Google has also rolled out new features in its IaaS cloud. Most notably, GCE now supports any Linux OS type, and natively offers RHEL and SUSE Linux. The company also rolled out live migration of virtual machines, meaning customers don’t have to shut down their VMs when the software or hardware is updated by Google.

GCE is just part of Google’s arsenal of cloud computing products, which also includes Google Application Engine, an application development PaaS (which is already generally available), along with various SQL and NoSQL storage options and big data analytics tools like its BigQuery.

While Google and AWS compete across the cloud market, they do have different approaches. Amazon has a market-leading set of features and partners offering services on top of its cloud. Not only does AWS have EC2, the direct competitor to GCE, but it also has a variety of storage options (like Google), including Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), and RedShift the data warehousing platform.

The companies each have data analytics platforms too. While Google has BigQuery, AWS answers with ElasticMap Reduce, its Hadoop on-demand service. AWS at its re:Invent show rolled out Kenesis, its real-time data analytics platform for short-term analytics jobs.

Where AWS clearly has an edge over Google is in the marketplace of partners that run services on top of AWS’s infrastructure. In the AWS marketplace users can spin up hundreds of types of services, like enterprise applications from SAP, or performance optimization tools from Riverbed and others.

[WHAT LIES AHEAD: Google Compute Engine's biggest challenges]

AWS has a market-leading breadth and depth of features and services in its cloud. But, it also had a multi-year head start in the market. So, where does that leave the market now today? AWS now has more legitimate competition than it’s ever had, though still has a sizeable market lead.

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