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Google Strengthens Cloud Platform

Google adds features and power to Cloud Platform, says it won't race Amazon to the bottom on price.

The keynote presentation at Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference, lasted over three hours and focused mainly on what Google SVP Sundar Pichai described as the company's "two open platforms:" Android and Chrome.

But Google has a third platform, the Google Cloud Platform, which also received some attention in the form of new features and capabilities. And this third platform may have more potential to bring Google recurring enterprise revenue than Web productivity applications like Google Apps.

Certainly, has realized revenue from cloud services. The company's Amazon Web Services division is estimated to have brought in over $2 billion in revenue last year.

As anticipated, Google opened Compute Engine (GCE), its on-demand cloud computing infrastructure service, to the public. Launched last year as an invitation-only service, GCE was made available last month to Google Cloud Platform customers paying for the company's $400 per month Gold Support package.

[ For more news and announcements from Google I/O, see Google I/O Day 1: Music, Maps, Search, Social. ]

To provide more flexibility for customers, Google also introduced sub-hour billing. GCE customers can now run brief computing jobs without being forced to pay for a full hour, which is the minimum billing increment on some other services. GCE bills by the minute, with a 10-minute minimum.

In addition, Google added support for shared-core instances, for routing features that make it easier to connect on-premises servers with Google's infrastructure and for persistent disks that support up to 10 TB per volume.

Google has also completed the ISO 27001:2005 international security certification for Compute Engine, Google App Engine, and Google Cloud Storage. Such certifications may serve to give enterprises the confidence to shift more of their computing work into the cloud.

"Our enterprise sales force is certainly in a lot of conversations with a lot of enterprises about the overall cloud platform," said Greg DeMichillie, director of product management for Google's Cloud Platform, in a press briefing on Wednesday. "I think we're at the beginning of that process, largely because if you look at enterprises in general, the enterprises that are out there actively working on the cloud are pretty small [in terms of quantity rather than size]. It's the classic bell curve. It's really only the leading edge companies that are seriously looking at it. ...We think that over the next 12 months we will see a pretty big upswing."

Google App Engine, the company's platform-as-a-service offering, was updated to version 1.8.0 last week. And this week Google confirmed what others had previously observed: that App Engine had been updated to support the PHP programming language. PHP continues to be extremely popular for Web applications and its presence on App Engine should help bring more business customers to the Google Cloud Platform. With PHP and Google Cloud SQL, App Engine could become a low-cost option for hosting small WordPress websites.

Google also introduced Google Cloud Datastore, a managed NoSQL database derived from the High Replication Datastore Google uses for App Engine. Developers can utilize Cloud Datastore even if their apps are not running on GCE or App Engine, making the service comparable in concept to Amazon S3.

DeMichillie, however, says that Google isn't looking to compete with Amazon on price. "We intend to be a premier offering in terms of performance and abilities, but not in terms of price," he said, adding, "I don't think we need to peg our prices to others. The reality is we just price it effectively, and the result is we are as cheap [as] or cheaper than others."

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