Battle in the Cloud: Google Versus Amazon

Michael Vizard

In one of the more anticipated moves in the cloud, Google, at the Google I/O 2012 conference this week, finally launched an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering to compete directly with Amazon.

Google has been a player in the cloud in the form of a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering that IT organizations could use to build applications. But with the launch of a preview edition of Google Compute Engine Infrastructure as a Service, Google is signaling that it now wants to compete more aggressively to host applications in the cloud as well.

Google really didn’t have a choice in the matter because as competition becomes more intense, size matters in the cloud. Cloud computing resources have become a commodity and before too long, the advent of cloudbursting will result in a spot market for cloud compute resources where price will be everything. We’ve already seen Amazon lower prices 19 times in the last couple of years, which is something it can continue to do as the size of its overall cloud platform continues to grow.

Google, of course, will attract its fair share of support if for no other reason than to provide a counterbalance to Amazon. For example, eXo, a provider of application development tools for building cloud applications, announced its support for building applications on the Google App Engine PaaS platform, many of which eXo CEO Benjamin Mestrallet says will eventually be hosted on Google Compute Engine Infrastructure as a Service.

But the degree to which Amazon and Google will succeed in the cloud remains to be seen. Clearly, corporate customers like to build and test applications on Google and Amazon cloud because the price can’t be beat. The closest competitor in that regard is Microsoft, which with Azure is trying to carve out a middle ground in the cloud between Amazon and Google and more enterprise-class services provided by vendors such as IBM, Rackspace and a host of others.

From an enterprise perspective, companies such as Google and Amazon are essentially faceless entities that provide next to no support and service level agreements (SLA) that upon closer inspection absolve them from any accountability or responsibility. There is a time and a place for the kind of cloud computing service provided by Amazon and Google. But at the end of the day, deciding where to deploy an application in the cloud will come down to cost, security sensitivity and the amount of hand-holding required from the cloud service provider by the IT organization.

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