Google expands the Compute Engine with load balancer functionality. But where is the innovation machine?

In a blog post, Google has announced further renovations to its cloud platform. In addition to the expansion and improvement of the Google Cloud Datastore and the announcement of the Google App Engine 1.8.3, the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offer Google Compute Engine has received a load balancing service.

News from the Google Cloud Datastore

To further increase the productivity of developers, Google has expanded its Cloud Datastore with several functionalities. These include the Google Query Language (GQL). The GQL is a SQL-like language and is specifically aimed at data-intensive applications to query Entities and Keys from the Cloud Datastore. Furthermore, more statistics can get from the underlying data by the query of metadata. Google sees this as an advantage, for example, to develop an own internal administrative console to do own analysis or debug an application. In addition, improvements to the local SDK were made. These include enhancements to the command line tool and support for developers using Windows. After the first version of the Cloud Datastore has support Java, Python, and Node.js, now Ruby has been added.

Google App Engine 1.8.3

The renewal of the Google App Engine version 1.8.3 mainly directed to the PHP runtime environment. Furthermore, the integration with the Google Cloud Storage, which according to Google is gaining popularity, was reinforced. From now on functions such as opendir() or writedir() can be used to directly access bucket in Cloud Storage. Further stat()-ing information can be queried via is_readable() and is_file(). Metadata can also be write to Cloud Storage files now. Moreover performance improvements through memcache-backed optimistic read caching were made, to improve the performance of applications that need to read frequently from the same Cloud Storage file.

Load Balancing with the Compute Engine

The Google Compute Engine is expanded with a Layer 3 load balancing functionality which allows to develop scalable and fault-tolerant web applications on the Google IaaS. With the load balancing function, the incoming TCP/UDP traffic can be distributed across different Compute Engine machines (virtual machines) within the same region. Moreover, this ensures that no defective virtual machines are used to respond to HTTP requests and load peaks are offset. The configuration of the load balancer is carried out either via command line or via the REST API. The Load Balancer function can be used free of charge until the end of 2013, then the service will be charged.

Google’s progress is too slow

Two important innovations stick out in the news about the Google Cloud Platform. On the one hand, the new load balancing function of the Compute Engine, on the other hand the strengthen integration of the App Engine with Google Cloud Storage.

The load balancing extension is admittedly much too late. After all, this is one of the essential functions of a cloud infrastructure offering, to ensure to develop scalable and highly available systems and which all other existing providers on the market already have in their portfolio.

The extended integration of the Cloud Storage with the Google App Engine is important to give developers more S3-like features out from the PaaS and create more opportunities in terms of access and to provide the processing of data in a central and scalable storage location.

Bottom line, it can be stated that Google continues to expand its IaaS portfolio steadily. What stands out here, is the very slow speed. From the innovation engine Google, which we know from many other areas of the company, is nothing to see. Google gives the impression that it has to offer IaaS to not lose too many developers on the Amazon Web Services and other providers, but the Compute Engine is not highly prioritized. As a result, the offer has treated very little attention. The very late extension to the load balancing is a good example. Otherwise you might expect more ambition and speed to invest in the expansion of the offer, from a company like Google. Finally, except for Amazon, no other company has more experience in the field of highly scalable infrastructures. This should be relatively quickly transformed into a public offering, especially like Google advertises that customers can use the same infrastructure on which also all Google services are running. Apart from the App Engine, which is classified in the PaaS market, the Google Compute Engine must continue to hire back. This will be the case for a long time, if the expansion speed is not accelerated, and other essential services are rolled out.

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.