Check out what SDN can do! Google lets you load balance across regions

Google data center

Google is adding two new storage and networking features to its Google Cloud Platform ahead of its user conference next week, both designed to make its cloud offerings faster and easier when compared to competing products from Amazon Web Services or Microsoft. Google is adding persistent flash storage, which my colleague Barb Darrow has already covered, and HTTP load balancing across regions.

The load balancing is a fulfillment of the hope for automatic shifting of compute resources from data center to data center without disrupting the workload. It offers developers the opportunity to scale up compute in certain regions closest to demand and could theoretically offer a developer a chance to follow the cheapest computing costs around the globe if Google offered something like spot pricing.

This is a pretty big deal, so I asked Tom Kershaw, product management lead at Google, how the company manages it. He credited three things: the Andromeda software-defined networking platform underlying all of Google’s Cloud Platform, algorithms that can detect networking constraints and then figure out where to move them, and the fact that Google broadcasts a single IP address for its entire cloud.

That’s fairly unique, but lets Google take incoming requests and route them on its own equipment for the benefit of the developer (and requesting users). It also makes the networking side of managing a cloud computing platform a bit easier on the developer. From the Google blog post:

HTTP Load Balancing can easily scale to support more than 1 million requests per second with no “warm up.” It also supports content-based routing and allows you to capture the benefits of Google’s global network infrastructure. More importantly, and for the first time, users can take advantage of load balancing across different regions — balancing traffic among compute resources that are located in different data centres in different parts of the world.

Both the persistent storage and http load balancing are available in limited preview. I expect these are topics that Google SVP and cloud master Urs Hölzle can talk about when he’s on stage this week at Structure on June 18.

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