Google's New Cloud Spanner Makes It Easier Yet to Buy Cloud

Cloud Spanner, which resembles an order-taker at a restaurant more than an actual cloud service, only requires a handful of decisions to be made.

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SAN FRANCISCO—Google is bound and determined to make it as ridiculously easy as possible to buy enterprise compute processing in its cloud. And potential customers, who might be comparing Google Cloud Platform against Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, certainly aren't going to say no to that approach.

The huge search, cloud services and general IT innovation provider introduced a series of new services March 9 on Day 2 of Google Cloud Next conference at Moscone West.

One of the more interesting ones is Cloud Spanner, which resembles an order-taker at a restaurant more than an actual cloud service. With Spanner, an user can determine the parameters of a workload, dial up how many nodes or cores (up to 1,000 nodes are available) on GCP he or she requires, then press the "Go" button. It literally is that simple; a demo onstage March 9 illustrated this.

Spanner and the GCP manage the whole process from start to finish.

Spanner Solves Longstanding Database Problem: Scalability

"Spanner solves a long-standing problem in databases. Until now, you could use a SQL database with nice transactional semantics, but it was really hard to scale it beyond one or just a few machines, and it was complicated and very expensive," Urs Hölzle, Google's senior vice president of technical infrastructure, said during the opening keynote.

"Or you could use a NoSQL system like BigTable, and get infinite scale, horizontal scalability, but you no longer have strong consistency guarantees. You are pushing your complexity into your application. Neither of these two choices gave you a truly global system."

Cloud Spanner is a globally distributed database service that point-blank solves these problems. "We have been using it internally at Google for years, and it can take pretty much any transaction load," Hölzle said.

For more information about Cloud Spanner, go here.

Speaking of databases, SQL Server Enterprise has been moved to general availability, and .NET core support will soon be coming to App Engine and Container Engine. Google has started a new Windows migration partner program that will add support for Windows developers in the Google Cloud.

BigQuery Now Available to Automate Data Transfers

Google is well known for its data warehouse tool, BigQuery. As of this week, developers can use the BigQuery data transfer service to automate the transfer of data from SaaS applications into BigQuery on a scheduled basis.

In addition, another tool, Cloud Dataprep, will help users explore and clean their data to prepare it for analysis. It utilizes machine learning to suggest more actions a user can take to make their data even higher quality.

In the serverless development space, a new feature called Cloud Functions provides a platform for building event-based microservices. A second new tool is the App Engine Flexible Environment, which automatically scales an app up and down while balancing the load for the developer.

There cannot be too many options for automation in developing enterprise software, and Google certainly knows this.

Google Cloud users now will have access to 64-core GCP VMs with up to 416 GB of memory, he said. Google is the first major Intel customer to have cloud services on the next-generation Xeon Skylake processors.

Google Now in 182 Countries

Hölzle put Google's international influence into some hard-factoid data points. The company now has presences in 182 countries (noting that the U.N. today has 193 member states) and has built a series of undersea cables to connect all the continents (Google is the first non-telco to lay undersea cable).

Hölzle added that Google Cloud services touch 1 billion users each day in one fashion or another. He noted that new GCP regions in California, Canada and the Netherlands will be coming online in 2017 and 2018, giving the company 11 data center regions worldwide.

AWS has been known to have lowered its pricing for eight or nine years in succession. Google is fighting back on that front.

Typical three-year virtual machine leases are fixed, Hölzle said, which is why Google began offering automatic sustained discounts in 2014. Google now will be offering committed-use discounts; one-year or three-year commitments by customers will mean up to a 57 percent discount. Users need to commit to overall volume, but they can change machine choices at any time.

On the security side, Google unveils a new data loss prevention tool. This is actually an API (application programming interface) that allows users to discover personal information and sensitive data in their content and take actions to protect it. For example, if a picture of a credit card shows up in a customer service chat, it will automatically block out the numbers on the card.

Google's Cloud Key Management Service, announced in beta in January, has been moved to general availability.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...