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Google Cloud adds lower-priced option with new standard tier

We’re seeing a big change in the enterprise: Organizations with reputations of only catering to fortune 500 companies and the like are opening their gates up to the masses. Google Cloud Platform is one such service that’s lowering its entry point to accommodate a much wider customer base, and it’s not the only one. Oracle is another company that’s “slumming it,” so to speak, with a wide range of new cloud applications at a much lower entry point than what we’re used to seeing from Oracle.

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The reason for this change is probably because the big vendors like Microsoft, Google, and Oracle are slowly figuring out that while there are only 500 fortune 500 companies, there are millions of customers at the lower levels. Google is making a lot of moves to distinguish itself from the IaaS crowd and expand its customer base, one of which is to announce two different tiers of network services to Google Cloud Platform customers. This move is a significant one as it makes GCP the first major cloud vendor to offer customers an option of either top-tier or low-cost services.

The cheap seats

The new feature is called Network Service Tiers and the two tiers in question here are the Premium Tier and the Standard Tier. Like their names imply, the Premium Tier is what GCP customers are using right now. The Standard Tier is the lower-cost entry point. The big difference is that while the Premium Tier uses Google’s global private fiber network with over a 100 points of presence (POPs) across the globe, the Standard Tier routes your outbound traffic to the ISP networks instead.

Google claims the performance of the Standard Tier is “comparable” to that of other leading public clouds. It had both tiers independently tested by Cedexis to have this verified. Now, to understand the main difference between the two tiers, it’s important to know how they function. Outbound traffic in the Premium Tier travels across Google’s private network to the nearest POP. This is why it’s so quick and expensive, too. Similarly, inbound traffic enters the private network at the POP closest to the end user.

With the Standard Tier, you don’t get this functionality because you’re not on Google’s network in the first place, and more, importantly, not slowing things down for its high-end customers. Another difference is the private network offers at least three independent paths between any two locations on the Google network, which ensures that traffic keeps flowing in the event of a failure. The Standard Tier would definitely have some fail-safes built in as well, but not like what’s on the Premium Tier.

Regional load balancing

There is also a difference between the two tiers with regards to load balancing. Premium GCP customers have access to Global Load Balancing while the Standard Tier service offers only the Load Balancing Virtual IP (VIP), which is regional. So, if your traffic is coming from somewhere local, it will use the GCP network load balancing features, but if it’s coming from a global location, it travels second class across the ISP network.

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The VIP, while similar to other public cloud offerings, does add some levels of management complexity when compared to the Premium Tier. If your applications require multi-region deployment or low latency and high availability, the Standard Tier probably isn’t going to cut it. If it’s something regional, however, like a restaurant takeaway app for example, the Standard Tier could be a very attractive option.

Google Cloud price difference

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While existing pricing will remain in effect until the service moves into general availability, the Standard Tier is expected to be priced at least 24 percent to 33 percent lower than the Premium Tier for North America and Europe. A price list for both tiers can be found here. A good thing for Standard Tier customers is that pricing for the Premium Tier is based on both the source and destination traffic, while Standard Tier traffic is only source-based.

For those who need high latency, however, in a much more recent update, Google announced Dedicated Interconnect. The new announcement implies that customers will now be able to connect directly to Google Cloud Platform through a dedicated connection available in 10GB per second increments.

Your own private GCP connection

What’s more is that Dedicated Interconnect is easy to configure and manage, since additional VLAN can be added with a few clicks. Once the service is set up, it’s good to go. There is also flowchart to help customers decide if this service is suited for them. Additionally, the connection between an organization and Google Cloud Platform can easily be scaled on a need basis. Dedicated Interconnect is already available at a number of locations with plans for even more which means you can connect to Google’s network from almost anywhere.

Google just added two new regions to its Cloud Platform called Southamerica-East1 in Brazil and Europe-West3 in Germany, according to their promise to launch a bunch of new regions throughout 2017. Since last November, Google has opened datacenters in Tokyo, London, Sydney, Singapore, and northern Virginia. Netherlands and Finland are next on the list. Google Cloud Platform now claims a total of 12 regions and 36 zones globally.

Reduction in network cost is never a bad thing, but no one wants to sacrifice performance in the bargain. The fact that traffic between an organization’s network and Google’s Cloud Platform is direct and does not travel through the public Internet is definitely a big plus for a network manager. Apart from the added security of such a setup, being able to pay for a direct link to the public cloud in 10Gbps increments is pretty much like pay as you go. This means anyone who can spend $1,700 per month per 10Gbps link can have their own private connection to GCP. A $72 per month charge will be added for every additional VLAN attachment, which is quite reasonable.

Spreading the cloud around

With services like Dedicated Interconnect, new tiers for a wider range of customers and new datacenters around the world, it’s clear that Google is looking for new clients everywhere it can. With the number of organizations that are turning to the cloud for their infrastructure needs, one can only imagine the potential that still lies unlocked in continents like Asia, Africa, and South America.

The trend in the enterprise right now is all about taking those services that were for so long available only to the elite multimillion-dollar organizations and make them available to anyone who can pay a minimum monthly fee. This not only takes away the disadvantage that a lot of startups are always at technology-wise but also takes away a lot of the speed bumps with regards to setup and infrastructure.

Happy employees make for happy customers, and if your employees aren’t worried about infrastructure and spending their time innovating, it translates to a much better end-user experience. It’s the users who are going to benefit from these new offerings from Google, and we can be sure that the other cloud giants will soon follow.

Photo credit: Pixabay