Yaniv Mor is CEO & Co-Founder of Xplenty, the big data processing platform powered by Hadoop.
Big data is the fuel driving today’s business engine. According to Gartner, more than 73 percent of organizations either have, or plan to invest in, advanced big data infrastructure and programs within the next 24 months. And to maximize the overall effectiveness and operational efficiency of these efforts, businesses are increasingly turning to the cloud, spending $13 billion in total on the category this year.
Since 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been the industry’s dominant vendor, with roughly 80 percent marketshare. But as the space matures, we’ve seen increased competition from players like Rackspace, Microsoft Azure, IBM Softlayer and perhaps, most notably, Google.
Though Google’s offering is still quite young with a customer base that is fairly small, its attractiveness for businesses is very real. Below we discuss three reasons why.
Why Google Cloud?
Price Flexibility. With Amazon in the driver’s seat, Google is very clearly trying to win the cloud computing space with the strength of its pricing structure. In October, to drive interest and put Amazon on its heels, they announced a 10 percent price reduction in all instances across all regions (even after price cuts in March). Unlike newer players in the space – think Digital Ocean and Profitbricks – Google can afford to wage a price war to encourage broad adoption. Their wallets are deep enough to weather cuts that drive scale.
Beyond just dropping prices, though, Google Cloud captures the cost flexibility businesses generally associate with cloud computing. One of the cloud’s main benefits is its ability to minimize cost by avoiding the often sizable upfront investments in IT hardware, as well as ongoing upgrades. The cloud also makes it possible to “pay-as-you-go” based on infrastructure and processing needs. With Google Cloud, billing is done by-the-minute, compared to other major Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms that charge hourly. This means a more agile and cost-effective experience for users.
Big Data Analytics Services. BigQuery is among the top big data analytics services available on the cloud today and is central to the success of Google Cloud itself. Designed for scalability and ease-of-use, BigQuery can handle petabytes of data which it in turn displays in an SQL-esqe interface. This allows a handler to easily query the data, quickly identifying early trends, analyzing patterns, locating potential technical problems, and do a host of other things that are critical for any business long-term. Google built its cloud to handle analytics.
This simple and straightforward functionality brings users to Google Cloud, while also serving as a key initial step toward shrinking the barriers for big data cloud adoption moving ahead.
Google App Engine. As far as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) goes, Google’s App Engine is currently one of the most comprehensive services available. Compatible with popular coding languages, including Java and Python, Google’s App Engine enables users to build and run applications themselves.
Additionally, App Engine provides one of the most important things to developers: scalability. Thanks to Google’s built-in technologies such as GFS and Big Table, all developers have to do is simply write the desired code and let Google take control over scaling processes as appropriate. Furthermore, given this easy-to-use blueprint, organizations can again cut out the leg work by keeping tabs on and adjusting their applications as they see fit, on their own.
The Long Road Ahead
Still, even with its very apparent strengths, Google has a long way to go before it can overtake Amazon as the category’s dominant player.
Consider, for instance, the sheer breadth of services available through AWS versus Google Cloud. There are many, many more – from a richer set of relational and NoSQL services all the way through code deployment and integration tools – and all are well integrated into the platform. That depth and flexibility is critical in accommodating the broad set of needs businesses and developers might have.
Alternatively, Google Cloud features far fewer products and services, limiting its inherent usability. Though this will likely change over time as the platform scales and matures, right now it’s well behind Amazon with regard to completeness. Separately, Amazon’s big network of partners and ISVs presents another hurdle to Google Cloud consideration, though the lack of services, in my view, is a bigger issue.
Together, these benefits make AWS the all-around better platform. But, through price cuts, BigQuery and Google App Engine, Google Cloud is beginning to win over businesses and position itself as a real challenger. Of course, with more meaningful competition, the harder it can be to select a vendor. So businesses need to look for a player that checks as many boxes as confidently as possible for their specific needs. At the end of the day, that’s what it really comes down to.
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