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3 cool Google cloud features

Brandon Butler | Aug. 13, 2014
In the increasingly competitive cloud IaaS market Google is attempting to distinguish its platform by arming its cloud with unique features and cutting-edge technology that customers can't quite find anywhere else in the market.

In the increasingly competitive cloud IaaS market Google is attempting to distinguish its platform by arming its cloud with unique features and cutting-edge technology that customers can't quite find anywhere else in the market.

With competition among Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google being as intense as ever, Google is attempting to distinguish its cloud offering by appealing directly to developers. "We're not focusing on the way cloud has been done, but instead we're focusing on how Google thinks it will evolve over the next five to 10 years," said Dan Blecher, a product manager on the Google Cloud Platform at one of the company's 17-stop Google Cloud Platform Roadshow events being held around the country - last week's was in Boston.

Here are three features Google highlighted last week at the event that seems not only to be cool features of the company's cloud, but fairly unique in the industry:

 Managed VMs

There's been a lot of talk in the cloud computing market about the infrastructure and platform as a service markets converging. To be clear: Infrastructure (IaaS) is basically just raw compute and storage capacity, which users can customize with a variety of guest operating systems and applications running on top of it. A platform (PaaS) offering usually comes with an OS and other applications already built into it, making it an ideal environment for application development in the cloud.

Google says customers shouldn't have to decide between IaaS and PaaS though. Some use cases may require customization of the infrastructure, which is where the company's Google Compute Engine IaaS comes in. Other use cases may call for a development environment being ready, which is what Google Application Engine PaaS is for. But to bridge the gap between these services, Google has introduced the idea of Managed VMs.

Managed VMs are sort of an in-between IaaS and PaaS service. They can be programmed to boot up with a specific guest OS, with specific applications ready to go and they can be changed on the fly. The Managed VM service will check to ensure that all the virtual machines are configured to the correct specifications, and it will conduct any necessary upgrades during the life of the VM.

A tool like Managed VMs gives developers, and specifically someone who manages a team of developers the ability to create virtual machine types that are customized to their specific use case. Managed VMs are still in limited preview, but more information about them is here.

 Replica Pools

Another nifty trick Google uses is named Replica Pools. It's similar to the idea of Managed VMs, but Replica Pools take it a step further and allow a user to make copies of existing virtual machine automatically. It's basically a copy and paste button for VMs.

 

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