Posts Tagged 'Google Cloud Computing'

Google Compute Engine Revisited

It has been awhile since I have written anything about Google Cloud Computing. I started to take a look at Google Compute Engine over a year ago but I was stopped because it was in limited preview and I could not access it. It looks like GCE has been made generally available since May so I thought I’d check back to see what has happened.

To use GCE you sign into Google’s Cloud Console using your Google account. From the Cloud Console you can also access the other Google cloud services: App Engine, Cloud Storage, Cloud SQL and BigQuery. From the Cloud Console you can create a Cloud Project which utilizes the various services.

Figure 1. Google Cloud Console

Unlike App Engine, which lets you create projects for free, GCE requires billing to be enabled up front. This, of course, will require you to create a billing profile and provide a credit card number. After that is done you can walk through a series of steps to launch a virtual machine instance. This is pretty standard stuff for anyone who has used other IaaS offerings.

Figure 2. Creating a new GCE instance

The choice of machine images is certainly much more limited than other IaaS vendors I’ve used. At this time there seems to be only four available and they are all Linux based. Probably Google and/or the user community will add more as time passes. It is nice to see the per-minute charge granularity which, in actual fact, is based on a minimum charge of 10 minutes and then 1 minute increments beyond that. The smallest instance type I saw, though, was priced at $0.115 per hour which makes GCE considerably more expensive than EC2, Azure and Rackspace. When you click the Create button it only takes a couple of minutes for your instance to become available.

Connecting to the instance seemed to me to be a little more complicated than other providers. I am used to using PuTTY as my ssh client since I work primarily on a Windows machine. I had expected to be able to create a key pair when I launched the instance but I was not given that option. To access the newly created instance with PuTTY you have to create a key pair using a third party tool (such as PuTTYgen) and then upload the public key to GCE. You can do this through the Cloud Console by creating an entry in the instance Metadata with a key of sshKeys and a value in the format <username>:<public_key> where <username> is the username you want to create and <public_key> is the actual value of the public key (not the filename) you create. This can be copied from the PuTTYgen dialog. A bit of extra work but arguably a better practice anyway from a security perspective.

Figure 3. Creating Metadata for the public key

After that is done it is straightforward to connect to the instance using PuTTY.

Figure 4. Connected to GCE instance via PuTTY

At this point I do not believe that Google Compute Engine is a competitive threat to established IaaS providers such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure or Rackspace. To me the most compelling reason to prefer GCE over other options would be the easy integration with other Google cloud services. No doubt GCE will continue to evolve. I will check back on it again soon.

Kevin Kell

Bank Chooses to Use Google Cloud Services

This week Google has announced what could be considered as a breakthrough agreement for its cloud computing services. Spanish bank BBVA has signed an agreement to use Google cloud services internally for its 110,000 staff. This is the biggest single company deal Google has signed. The deal can be considered as a breakthrough because of the high security and regulatory requirements.

it is interesting to consider the details of this deal. The headlines of a bank making use of cloud computing are attention grabbing for sure, but closer examination of the details are required. What services are being signed up for and what information will be stored in the cloud – customer details, account details ? Anyone with a working knowledge of Googles cloud services will be aware that their core cloud offering is productivity applications delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS). This is not something that user accounts or details could/would be migrated too. BBVA has said the SaaS of Google will be used internally for staff communication. All customer details will be kept in BBVA’s data centres. The main motivation for adopting Googles services is to have the company working better together internally through increased collaboration through tools such as chat, shared calendars, video conferencing etc.The aim is that this will increase productivity and innovation. Another driver to this cloud adoption has been the increasing mobility of the banks staff and the access from any where offered by SaaS supports this.

This deal is an excellent for both organisations I believe. BBVA have adopted cloud computing in an area that can significantly improve their business without compromising the requirements of the regulatory bodies they have to comply with. Google have a showcase client which will demonstrate the significant benefits of their productivity applications. Anybody considering adopting cloud computing and wanting to know the benefits as well as the potential risks should consider attending Learning Tree’s Introduction to Cloud Computing course where we analyse the tools and products of the major cloud computing vendors and consider their applicability in a number of real world scenarios.

Chris Czarnecki

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