Google’s GCE and the Cloud Developer Economy (CDE)

In April last year, I was sitting in one of Google’s London offices understanding more about the Google App Engine and the fantastic collaboration offerings. A thought crossed my mind in the meeting: ‘All good with PaaS* and SaaS** Google, but where is Infrastructure in all this? Surely, you should have a play in this’. I didn’t voice it out loud though.

In June 2012, Google announced Google Compute Engine (GCE) and gradually opened up the service to the users. Since yesterday, GCE is available publicly. GCE is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), public cloud offering, with a clearly aggressive charging and pricing strategy to compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Windows Azure.

The Cloud Developer Economy (CDE)

While infrastructure plays an important role in any business, eventually it is a dumb platform. What makes this platform rich and worth building upon, beyond the minor pricing differences (see tables below), are the features available to the developers, either enterprise or consumer. Google, with its strong background in software, understands what the developer community wants. Hence, the focus of Google I/O 2013 yesterday, was more on cool APIs and gaining developer buy-in, than anything else.

As the future steers the enterprise towards a Software-Defined everything land, and whilst the infrastructure wars are still being fought and the network wars have just started, good APIs are the sharp swords and great developers are the elite warriors. Using the interesting platform features driven by robust APIs, developers may soon be able to control all layers except the physical. That IS game-changing. This includes security if there are good APIs to call at various layers. The cloud service provider that understands the value of good features but more importantly, good developer communities, who in turn will ensure good features, is bound to succeed. And Google knows this!

A look at the GCE landing page demonstrates this well. Instead of infrastructure configuration, the focus is on applications and Software Development Kits (SDKs), something that developers can easily relate to.


Google has an edge in understanding the developers’ need it seems, at the cost of appearing very geeky most of the times, which is OK. For other cloud providers to survive and succeed, engaging the developer community will be critical to the survival of their platform.

Good developer communities are made of great developers. They ensure good applications and fantastic APIs. APIs are the product right? So, is it an API Economy or a Developer Economy? You decide.

Exciting times ahead!

*PaaS – Platform as a Service

**SaaS – Software as a Service

For referencing, tables below present a sample of the pricing for the three public infrastructure cloud services in no particular order.

Google Compute Engine

Configuration Virtual Cores Memory (GB1) GCEUs
what is this?
Local Disk (GB) Price (USD) / Hour
n1-standard-1-d 1 3.75 2.75 420 $0.145
n1-standard-2-d 2 7.50 5.50 870 $0.290
n1-standard-4-d 4 15 11 1770 $0.580
n1-standard-8-d 8 30 22 2 x 1770 $1.160
n1-standard-1 1 3.75 2.75 0* $0.127
n1-standard-2 2 7.50 5.50 0 $0.253
n1-standard-4 4 15 11 0 $0.507
n1-standard-8 8 30 22 0 $1.014


Windows Azure

Extra Small (A0) Shared 768 MB $0.02
Small (A1) 1 1.75 GB $0.06
Medium (A2) 2 3.5 GB $0.12
Large (A3) 4 7 GB $0.24
Extra Large (A4) 8 14 GB $0.48

Amazon Web Services

Linux/UNIX Usage
Standard On-Demand Instances
Small (Default) $0.065 per Hour
Medium $0.130 per Hour
Large $0.260 per Hour
Extra Large $0.520 per Hour
Second Generation Standard On-Demand Instances
Extra Large $0.550 per Hour
Double Extra Large $1.100 per Hour
Micro On-Demand Instances
Micro $0.020 per Hour
High-Memory On-Demand Instances
Extra Large $0.460 per Hour
Double Extra Large $0.920 per Hour
Quadruple Extra Large $1.840 per Hour