Google’s rival to Amazon Web Services (AWS) is being made more widely available after months of running as an invite-only club.
Google Compute Engine (GCE), which was announced in June 2012, lets you run Virtual Linux Servers, and is now available to all customers who sign up for Google’s Gold Support package. Pricing for this starts at $400 per month. Google has also announced a price cut of four percent on all CGE pricing. The pricing structure starts at $0.132 for one hour for one virtual core.
The release of the service to Gold Support users was announced on Google’s App Engine Blog, where details were also given of a number of improvements to GCE.
There’s an improved administration console that provides a unified interface for administering all your Google Cloud Platform services in one place. Five new instance type families have been added, and European customers get two additional zones. An enhanced metadata server has also been added giving the ability to support recursive queries, blocking gets and selectable response formats. The metadata server also adds support for updating virtual machine tags and metadata on running instances.
The final improvements include options to boot from persistent disks mounted as the root file system, persistent disk snapshots, the ability to checkpoint and restore the contents of network resident persistent disks on demand, and the ability to attach and detach persistent disks from running instances.
While GCE may prove important in practical terms, the Google App Engine blog post goes on to discuss new work by Google that shows the company still has a lighthearted side; the Google team in Japan has been working on the World Wide Maze Chrome Experiment, a showcase for the various back-end services that are part of Google Compute Engine.
The experiment consists of a website that converts any website of your choice into a three-dimensional maze that you can navigate via your smartphone. The Game state and synchronization data is handled by Virtual Servers running Node.js while the UI is hosted on AppEngine. You can try out the maze at www.chrome.com/maze/ - after all, you will be testing the usability of Google’s rival to Amazon Web Services, and that’s real work, isn’t it?
Or, if you don't use Chrome as your browser, see if the video persuades you to try it: