Review: Google Cloud flexes flexibility

Google’s elegant Cloud Platform makes it easy to spin up instances or simply tap Google APIs only when you need them

Review: Google Cloud flexes flexibility

If one company among all companies is synonymous with cloud-centered computing, it would be Google. From the very beginning, Google built a business located somewhere in the murky depths of the Internet, and its search engine continues to be one of the most formidable engineering marvels of the modern world. When was the last time there was an outage?

It’s only natural that anyone looking to build an information-based business that spans the Internet would turn to Google and leverage all of its experience. As pioneers, if Google needed a technology, Google engineers had to develop it themselves, then deploy it. Now everyone can profit from Google’s skills and build a Google-grade system with Google-grade reliability for pennies per hour or per click.

The simplest path to using the Google Cloud is to start up an instance from the Google Compute Engine. After a few clicks on a Web page or a few calls on an API, you get to be root in your own virtual machine running deep inside Google’s racks.

The basic options include 18 of the standard Linux distros (Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, CentOS, and so on) or -- and this may be a bit of a surprise -- two versions of Windows Server (2008 R2 or 2012 R2). Running Windows will add a bit more to the cost: an extra $14.60 per month for a standard, single-vCPU machine. The price on the OS goes up as you add cores.

Machines and containers

Google offers a wide range of hardware options and plenty of predefined configurations with as many as 32 virtual cores and as much as 208GB of RAM. If you don’t like the standard options, the UI includes a couple of sliders that let you choose more arbitrary amounts like 10GB or 34GB of RAM. However, the amount of RAM is connected to the number of cores, and you can’t choose more extreme combinations like one CPU and 180GB of RAM ... not that you might want it.

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