Google Gets Serious About Public Cloud: Previews New API

In December, Google made its IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) Google Compute Engine (GCE) available as a full-fledged commercial service, after testing it in preview mode for more than a year. Last week, the company introduced its new Billing API as an easier way for developers to monitor and analyze how much running an application on the Cloud Platform costs. According to Google, the Billing Export offers a new means of accessing usage data, and is available in preview.

“Although the company has offered the Google App Engine PaaS (platform-as-a-service) since 2008, Google has been fairly late to the IaaS space,” reports PC World. “Introduced as a preview in June 2012, GCE competes with Amazon’s popular Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service. A number of companies already use GCE, including Snapchat, Evite and Red Hat.”

GCE offers a Linux virtual machine and runs on the same infrastructure that the company uses for its own services.

According to PC World: “By putting the service into commercial mode, Google is offering an implicit assurance that the service will not be arbitrarily shuttered at least anytime in the near future, thus avoiding the fates of other discontinued Google projects, such as Google Reader or Google Wave.”

In a December 23 blog post, Google announced that “your daily Google Cloud Platform usage and cost estimates will be exported automatically to a CSV or JSON file stored in a Google Cloud Storage bucket you specify.”

“Google cloud customers can choose their method of accessing that data: through an application programing interface (API), through a command-line interface, or by way of a file browser,” explains VentureBeat. “It’s available in JSON or CSV format.”

“Opting for this route saves Google the trouble of having to iterate the way Amazon has in coming up with a convenient way to expose usage data to customers. (Currently Amazon Web Services’ configuration is similar to Google’s, where billing files get sent to customers’ S3 storage buckets, where they can download them or get them through an API.) This way, users have access to the latest cost data from Google,” notes VentureBeat. “They won’t download something only to find out that a more up-to-date version is available.”

“This should be interesting to the whole industry, because it says Google is getting serious early on about about all the features big users need,” said Mat Ellis, founder and chief executive of Cloudability.

“Clearly, there is demand for this information,” suggests TechCrunch. “Cloudability and others are currently building their businesses on top of the fact that most cloud services feature rather complicated billing schemes. It doesn’t look like Google or Amazon are about to release similar services anytime soon, so until then, it’s up to developers to either use a third-party service to analyze their usage data or to build their own tools.”