Google Tells Users to Move Cloud VMs for Infrastructure Refresh
Racks full of servers in a Google data center (Photo: Google)

Google Tells Users to Move Cloud VMs for Infrastructure Refresh

New European GCE zone with ‘latest and greatest’ data center technology coming online at months end

Google is asking its cloud infrastructure service users to move their VM instances from one of the cloud availability zones in Europe to another to upgrade data center equipment that supports the zone.

A typical IT refresh cycle in a data center is three to four years, and Google is no exception. In a notice about the changes posted on the public Google Compute Engine Operations, a Google Cloud Platform representative said GCE cloud zones were refreshed every three to five years.

The company recently stood up an entirely new availability zone in Europe, called europe-west1-c, which is one of the zones it suggests users move their VMs to from europe-west1-a – the zone that’s being prepared for upgrades.

Europe-west1-c, expected to come online in two weeks, will have “all new, shiny Ivy Bridge machines with our latest and greatest infrastructure,” the Google rep wrote in the forum post. The zone will be supported by Google’s latest servers, power, cooling and network fabric technologies.

GCE currently has three availability zones in the U.S., two in Europe and three in Asia. The three Asian zones run on Intel's Ivy Bridge chips (Ivy Bridge is the newer 22-nanometer cousin of the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture that used 32 nm process technology). All other zones, save for one of the three U.S. ones, still run on Sandy Bridge, which means refreshes for them are also around the corner.

The European zone that’s up for an upgrade now is going offline at the end of March 2015, and all VMs and persistent disks (storage attached to cloud VMs) still running on it at that time will be terminated.

Inter-zone VM migration tools in the pipeline

Google is suggesting that users with infrastructure in this zone make disk snapshots and use them to launch new instances in the new zone or in the existing europe-west-1b.

The company’s Live Migration feature for moving VMs from one physical host to another only works within zones. In the post, however, the rep wrote that Google was working to deliver tools that would help automate the inter-zone VM migration by the end of January 2015.

Quarterly data center spend continues to grow

The amount of money Google spends on data centers and equipment that houses them has been growing steadily. In its third-quarter earnings report, released today, the company said it spent $3.35 billion in the "other cost of revenue" category, which is mostly data center operational expenses, hardware inventory and content acquisition costs, among other expenses. That's 20 percent of the company's revenue and up from $2.44 billion spent in this category in the third quarter of last year.

That's operational expense. In the capital expense bucket, Google reported spending $2.42 billion during the quarter, most of it on data center construction, production equipment and real-estate purchases. That's up from $2.29 billion spent in this category during the same three months one year ago.

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