A VM is a VM is a VM (or is it?)

Don’t believe innovation is strong in the IaaS VM space? Read on.

When I hear that all IaaS clouds were created equal I feel like a decade or so ago arguing that Solaris 10 was actually bring lots of innovation to the operating system market (Dtrace, ZFS, Zones). Google’s Compute Engine is adding unique features one at a time to the point where flexibility is really the real reason to move to the cloud.


It all starts with the ability to create your VM using custom machine types rather than having to chose from a pre-defined set of configurations. You can also change the characteristics of an existing machine – more memory, more CPU to adjust to different requirements or when moving from development to production. Then, the boot time has been repeatedly measured as being extremely fast which really relates to how flexible a cloud environment should be.

When running your VM, you can rely on live migration voodoo to keep your services running (while, for instance, Google upgrades the underlying infrastructure) as well as wonderful local SSD performance. Performance, reliability, flexibility. Choose three.

Price is always important and since you don’t have time to become a billing expert, Compute Engine is priced by the minute (so you truly pay for what you use), offers automatic discounts on sustained use and a crazy-cheap option with preemptible VMs. Customers of course benefit from the pricing competition and Google is committed to providing the best value.

Of course there are many other things that make Compute Engine attractive including Google’s networking infrastructure, the new UX-friendly Console with great in-browser SSH support, and of course all the higher-level services such as Container Engine (hosted Kubernetes). But at the end of the day what matters is that innovation and competition are alive and well.

Google works hard to make sure not all Cloud VMs are created equal but you should check out for yourself – you’re just minutes away from SSH’ing into your own Compute Engine VM.

Summer 2016 update: you can not also get sizing recommendations from Google to better optimize your instances, including those you should scale down!

Author: alexismp

Google Developer Relations in Paris.

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