What is GCP?
GCP is a public cloud vendor — like competitors Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. With GCP and other cloud vendors, customers are able to access computer resources housed in Google’s data centers around the world for free or on a pay-per-use basis.
GCP offers a suite of computing services to do everything from GCP cost management to data management to delivering web and video over the web to AI and machine learning tools.
Google Cloud Platform use cases
Here’s a few of the ideal GCP scenarios.
If you’re a large organization that needs to set a lot of permissions while working on projects, Google has an excellent organizational hierarchy that allows you to set policy at the top level and forget it. This enables departments to move fast yet remain bound to organizational constraint.
In GCP, all resources belong to a specific GCP project. And when that project is deleted, all the resources are removed from the platform preventing left behind resources that lead to increased costs.
In addition, there’s an excellent feature that allows projects to be assigned to different billing accounts over time.
Another ideal use case for using GCP is for organizations that need the benefits of advanced Big Data, machine learning and analytics.
Businesses can ingest the data into GCP and then data mine the key performance indicators for their products — or gather customer data to recommend additional purchase suggestions based on buying history.
Google Cloud vs Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud includes a combination of services available over the internet that can help organizations go digital. Google Cloud Platform (which provides public cloud infrastructure for hosting web-based applications and is the focus of this blog post) is a part of Google Cloud.
Some other services that are a part of Google Cloud include:
Google Workspace, formerly known as G Suite and Google Apps. This product provides identity management for organizations, Gmail, and collaboration tools. Enterprise versions of Android and Chrome OS. These phone and laptop operating systems are ways for users to connect to web-based applications. Application programming interfaces (APIs) for machine learning and enterprise mapping services. These provide software-to-software communication. While Google’s GCP cloud infrastructure is the backbone of applications like Google Workplace, these applications aren’t what we’re talking about when we talk about GCP. For this post, we’re focusing on Google Cloud Platform.
Google Cloud Platform infrastructure, regions, and zones
Google’s global infrastructure currently has 24 locations around the world where Google Cloud Platform resources are offered. Locations start with a region and within a region are availability zones. These zones are isolated from a single point of failure. Some resources such as the HTTP global load balancer are global and can receive requests from any of the Google edge locations and regions. Other resources, like storage, can be regional. The storage is distributed across multiple zones within a region for redundancy. And finally zonal resources, including compute instances, are only available in one specific zone within one specific region. When deploying applications on GCP, you must select the locations depending on the performance, reliability, scalability, and security needs of your organization.
What are Google Cloud Platform services?
Each GCP region offers a category of services. Some services are limited to specific regions. Major services of Google Cloud Platform include:
Computing and hosting
Storage and database
You can view a full list of GCP products here.
Google Cloud Platform pros and cons
Google is my cloud of choice. In my experience, it feels like using LEGO to build architectures. Each service has its own use case and was designed to work with the next service and their well-defined rules of engagement.
When it comes to strengths, Google Cloud Platform documentation is second to none. (Reading the docs is a career-changing art, by the way.) A crowd favorite is how Google incorporates the actions into GCP’s documents. They’re divided into an overview section, followed by a hands-on section, walking the reader through an implementation of the feature or service.
Another strength for GCP is the global backbone network that uses advanced software-defined networking and edge-caching services to deliver fast, consistent, and scalable performance. Yes, the premium-tier global network costs a little more, but in my opinion, designing architectures using a virtual private cloud (VPC) that automatically routes traffic on a global network is worth it.
Creating a virtual private network and subnetworks is the foundation of using resources or any infrastructure within GCP. Try our hands-on lab to learn how to use Terraform to create a Terraform VPC and public subnet. Learn to create a VPC and subnet through Infrastructure as Code so you can test and launch GCP resources as necessary.
If I had to say GCP had a weakness, it would be that the Google Cloud Platform has far fewer services than those offered by AWS and Azure. In addition to that, GCP has an opinionated model of how their cloud services should be used — and that’s geared towards software developers. The main takeaway is that Google is investing in GCP rather than seeking market dominance or growth. Google has a hard time prioritizing GCP over the bigger revenue drivers of search, ads, and YouTube.