5 things you should know about Google’s cloud platform

Funny thing: On last week’s Structure Show podcast, North Bridge Venture Partners’ Paul Santinelli talked about the biggest threats to Amazon Web Services and didn’t mention Google (or Microsoft, some listeners have pointed out) once. Time will tell whether that was oversight or wisdom, but based on this week’s Structure Show guest, I’m guessing Google thinks it’s the former.

Greg DeMichillie
Greg DeMichillie

Barb Darrow and I interviewed Greg DeMichillie, director of product management for the Google Cloud Platform, and asked him all about why people should take Google’s cloud products seriously. Here are five of the main points, but listen to the whole thing for a lot more detail and for a discussion of the week’s cloud computing news.

Google can’t run on GoDaddy: So if running on infrastructure that was designed to handle some of the most widely used applications in the world is important, Google should be looking pretty good. “If you think about file systems or data stores to store Gmail or the web, there were no, still are no, existing systems that are up that sort of scale and up to that sort of demand,” DeMichillie said. “We frequently face the task of having to invent the solutions to problems as we come up with them.”

Google has the “most widely used cloud NoSQL database”: Speaking about Google Cloud Datastore, the hybrid SQL-NoSQL database that powers App Engine and is now a standalone service, DeMichillie said, “We’re running about 4 trillion operations, read/write requests, per month on [it] today.” Granted, that count includes both internal Google user and external customer use, but, he noted, Snapchat is a Google cloud customer and accounts for more than a handful of transactions everyday.

Google in the cloud business for the long haul: Google’s periodic housecleaning sessions over the past couple years — including of popular services like Google Reader — understandably raise some doubts about how committed Google is to projects that don’t meet revenue goals. DeMichillie wouldn’t guarantee services like Compute Engine will be around for the long haul, but he did try to reassure developers by explaining that Google’s cloud services are really just externalized versions of what it uses internally. “There’s no scenario in which Google suddenly decides, ‘Gee, I don’t think we need to think about storage anymore or computing anymore,'” he said.

Google is no Amazon Web Services in IaaS … yet: “Clearly, just from a pure market share perspective, we acknowledge the reality of that,” DeMichillie acknowledged. But Google has been regularly adding features to Compute Engine since its May release and to its overall cloud platform on a regular basis. Compared with some other cloud providers, he noted, Google believes wholeheartedly in the cloud as the delivery model for next-generation apps and doesn’t have a legacy software business to preserve.

Google spends a lot on infrastructure, and that matters: It might not take billions of dollars in capital expenditures every year to build a profitable cloud computing business, but DeMichillie’s stance is that providers who can make those kind of investments will probably make infrastructure that developers find more compelling. “Obviously, scale has a number of advantages,” he said. “Scale allows you to invest in customer hardware, custom software, custom data center technologies. It allows you to innovate across all dimensions of the stack.”

So there you have it. In just four weeks of the Structure Show, we’ve now talked about just every major cloud provider and spoken directly with two of them (MIcrosoft cloud CTO Dave Campbell was our first guest). Listen, put your thoughts together and tell us who you think has best chances to challenge AWS.

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Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user hoperan.