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Google Cloud Platform falling behind in serverless computing

We all know that, although Google has become a name synonymous with tech success, it has always been in the shadows of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure when it comes to cloud computing. Now, it seems that Google Cloud Platform is falling behind again in regards to serverless computing.

Google’s main cloud strengths right now are its artificial intelligence and Kubernetes containers, although it’s still not even close to AWS in terms of revenue. The majority of companies simply don’t see enough advantages of Google Cloud Platform over its competition.

According to Gartner, Google Cloud Platform is built to attract the small percentage of “cloud-native companies and those that want to ‘run like Google.’ ” While they’ve attempted to attract a larger number of enterprises, Google Cloud earns only about $300 million in quarterly revenue compared to AWS’s $4.1 billion and Azure’s $1.8 billion, as estimated by Bernard Golden.

Although Google still has a seat at the cloud wars, according to many in the industry, Google is far behind its competitors in serverless computing because it simply doesn’t offer the innovation or amount of services as its competitors.

Is serverless computing big enough to have an effect?

AWS Lambda is a relatively new force, existing only since 2014, and it certainly isn’t AWS’s main earner. However, serverless computing has been growing at a steady rate and is beginning to have an effect on the market, and it’s no question as to why.

Looking into serverless computing shows that developers can more quickly deploy new code, requires less overall financing, and much more. Here, we’ve gone over some of the best Lambda features you should know about.

Serverless computing essentially abstracts away the complexity of managing a server for “mobile and API backends, ETL, data processing jobs, databases, and more.” More than that, serverless computing platforms only need the code and data, no upfront provisioning. Instead, they dynamically provision the resources as needed.

Many are looking to serverless computing because you don’t need to manage servers, including no need to install security patches or perform manual, repetitive tasks. Another great benefit is that the services only make you pay for what you use thanks to dynamic provision and automatic scaling.

Subbu Allamaraju, Expedia’s vice president of cloud, tweeted that “Serverless patterns are pulling the rug from underneath container cluster managers faster than the latter [are] becoming industrial grade.”

According to InfoWorld, Expedia under Allamaraju in late 2016 did “over 2.3 billion Lambda calls per month,” a number that has increased into 2017. Many other large companies, such as Nordstrom and Coca-Cola have also hopped on the serverless computing bandwagon after seeing its speed and simplicity.

If we take his statement at face value, it shows that one of Google’s best tools for cloud computing, Kubernetes, is quickly being outpaced by one of their slowest growing areas, serverless computing. Google’s AI and machine learning seem to be another step in the direction of the future, but they shouldn’t be the focus at the expense of serverless computing.

AWS Lambda, not Google Cloud Platform, is the future

There’s no secret, even from within Google, that “from a programming model and a cost model, AWS Lambda is the future — despite some of the tooling limitations,” as stated by Google’s own Alan Ho. While there’s no doubt that there are current limitations, at the rate that technology advances, they likely won’t be there for too much longer.

So, they have attempted to compete with other serverless computing options by offering many benefits with the Google Cloud Platform, such as infrastructure that is built to last into the future and is constantly improving, data and analytics that are built from Google’s extensive Big Data and machine learning, the ability to grow with your company with serverless and fully managed computing, and more.

Google Cloud Platform also hosts top-notch security to make sure your data is safe, and pricing is a pay-as-you-go model, helping almost all customers save costs over traditional methods, although they still charge more than both AWS Lambda and Microsoft Azure Functions.

While these benefits seem like Google is doing what it can to compete with serverless computing competitors, they are still swiping business from Google Cloud Platform.

Server Density CEO David Mytton explained that “Once your core runtime requirements are met, the differences between the [serverless vendors’] services aren’t particularly important... What does count is the availability of services to consume from within the cloud provider ecosystem.” He continued on to say that, in his opinion, “even where Google has invested in serverless, it has done so half-heartedly.”

The alpha release of Google’s serverless environment, Google Cloud Functions, was in February 2016 with the beta release being over a year later in March 2017. It only supports Node.js as its runtime environment and JavaScript as a language, and it hasn’t had many new features or updates since its last big release. Google also needs to add more support for other cloud services and more in-depth monitoring.

Google could be behind on serverless computing because they were the last to join the top players, with the first being AWS Lambda followed by Microsoft Azure Functions. However, Google needs to offer an equal amount of features or lower their prices as more and more companies begin using serverless computing if they don't want to be left in the dust.

It might be ridiculous to assume that containers are going away anytime soon, meaning that Google won’t fall into oblivion within the cloud wars. Yet, many insiders of the industry see serverless computing eventually eliminating containers, perhaps not altogether but certainly a great reduction in the number of containers used today.

Whether containers have a set expiration date or not, looking at the numbers that put Google at a distant third place prove that, if the company is serious about participating in the cloud wars, it needs to offer more than what it does now, including advancing its serverless computing options.