GCP 101: An Introduction to Google Cloud Platform

By 2020, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud. Will your organization be one of them? Cloud computing is no longer a fad; it is a sustainable option for securing data in a flexible and scalable way that can also save you money in the long term.

Before beginning a cloud adoption journey and migrating to the cloud you should do your homework, thoroughly researching your options. Each organization is unique and has its own specifications, so you’ll need to take some time to assess your situation.

If you need more help making a decision, we covered Amazon Web Services (AWS) in a previous post as we began this series about choosing a public cloud provider.

Why Choose Google Cloud Platform?

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) operates like other public cloud providers. It provides virtual machines and hardware, housing them in a regional data center. The regions are then divided into separate zones where data is stored. This allows resources to be housed near your physical location. It also prevents failures and latency. In addition, there are global, regional and zonal resources.

What you would commonly think of as software and hardware products are known in GCP as services. Services provide access to resources.

In GCP, everything starts with a project. This is a centralized hub for all that you create. According to Google, “a project is made up of the settings, permissions, and other metadata that describe your applications.”

You can access your project in one of three ways:

  • Google Cloud Platform Console
  • Command-line interface
  • Client libraries

What Makes Google Cloud Platform Different

GCP differentiates itself from the other public cloud providers in a variety of ways. Google provides a comprehensive security model, a unique billing model — and a strong reliance on data analytics to ensure optimal performance.

Security

The Google security model is built from more than 15 years of experience focused on keeping customers safe on Google products. Google Cloud Platform allows your applications and data to operate on the same trusted security model that Google built for its own network.

Pricing

Like most cloud providers, GCP offers a pay-as-you-go monthly plan. This means your bill is based on the usage of its compute engine instances. However, Google takes things a step further by charging per second with a one-minute minimum. This allows you to save even more money when your business isn’t using Compute Engine, especially if you are running short-term workloads, or you’re running a dynamic web application.

Big Data

business strategyGoogle also stands out because of its data analytics provided by BigQuery. With big data services, you can process data in the cloud to get answers to your most complex questions. You can also create schemas, load data, generate queries — and export data.

GCP Services

There are several factors that influence why you would choose GCP as your public cloud provider. One of the major reasons is its services and distributed applications model.

This is geared toward businesses interested in building new applications in the cloud, or replacing some of their existing data center applications with cloud-based apps. In other words, moving to the cloud and a services model is not a destination, but rather a transition.

With a focus on services and applications, GCP gives you the power to build applications and blend assets also known as app modernization. By creating a hybridized model with components, you can stage your workloads in a more efficient way using Google's own experience as a pioneer in technology.

A Guide to Most Commonly Used GCP Services

Compute Engine

This service allows users to run virtual machines in Google’s global data center. As an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) part of Google Cloud Platform, Compute Engine is built on the same infrastructure as Google’s search engine and other services. According to Google, “Compute Engine's tooling and workflow support enable scaling from single instances to global, load-balanced cloud computing.”

Google Cloud Autoscaling

Business man climbing up on hand drawn graphs concept on backgroundWith autoscaling, you can choose to add or remove virtual machine (VM) instances from a specific instance group. Once you establish an autoscaling policy, the autoscaler will scale based on your load. This is done automatically within Compute Engine based on increases and decreases in load. By allowing your apps to scale with fluctuations to traffic, autoscaling reduces cost since you use fewer resources. This is especially useful for retail because you can control when resources are used, such as on Black Friday when you may want to expand them — as opposed to on-prem where you would need to purchase equipment that may sit mostly unused during the rest of the year.

Cloud Storage

Often mistaken for Google Drive, Cloud Storage is an online file storage web service used for Google Cloud Platform. Cloud Storage comes in different varieties to suit your IT needs. You can choose among multi-regional, regional, nearline and coldline, each providing specific benefits ranging from maximum availability to the lowest cost storage.

Cloud DNS

Google describes this service as “a global fiber network, connecting you to the world.” Included within this are domain name systems, Cloud DNS and a global DNS network. Using the Google infrastructure, Cloud DNS is scalable and can be adjusted based on your IT needs. With it, you can translate a simple domain name into a numerical IP address and publish it all with an easy to use interface, command-line or API.

Cloud SQL

This Google database service is fully managed to give you a simple way to set up, maintain and manage and your relational PostgreSQL, MySQL, and SQL Server databases. Secure and scalable, it’s built on top of Google’s global network. With Cloud SQL, you can focus on developing applications while it takes care of managing your databases.

Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

Like most public cloud providers, Google offers a virtual private space that can be used to keep data isolated, yet secure. This service allows you to maintain a space where data can travel freely across regions without using the public internet. You can also bring your own IP address, and if you are connecting on-prem to the cloud, you won’t need to replicate policies for each region.

Stackdriver Monitoring

When you need a peek into how your cloud applications are doing, Stackdriver Monitoring has you covered. This service collects metrics, events and metadata from GCP, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other applications. Stackdriver takes in your data and gives you insights using a variety of tools, including dashboards, charts and alerts.

Cloud Functions

This service is part of a larger shift in cloud computing to a serverless architecture, giving developers the power to write code and not have to worry about infrastructure. With Cloud Functions, you gain “an event-driven compute platform to easily connect and extend Google and third-party cloud services,” plus the ability to build applications that can easily scale. Going serverless has its benefits. There is neither server management nor up-front provisioning. With autoscaling, you pay only for the resources used.

Multi-Cloud and Anthos

Cloud Computing diagramThe future will consist of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. This is where Anthos delivers value. Anthos is Google’s open platform solution to manage your applications. This software-based management approach gives you the power to easily get your apps up and running. Ideal for enterprise organizations, Anthos is a multi-cloud platform, a first for major public cloud providers.

Built on the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Anthos differentiates itself from other services by not being a standalone product, but instead a framework for multiple services underneath it. These are aligned with what Google terms the themes of application modernization, cloud migration, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud management.

Enterprises benefit from Anthos and its flexibility. If you are hosting multiple cloud environments and still want to maintain some workloads on-premise, Anthos allows you to build these, whether you’re using a hybrid cloud strategy or multi-cloud strategy.

Migrating to the Cloud

When you’ve made the decision to migrate all or some of your workloads to the cloud, you will need to understand existing on-premise and cloud infrastructure. With a free cloud ready assessment, we can better assess workloads, and compare cost and compatibility to help you prepare for moving to the cloud.

We want to be sure you understand all that Google Cloud Platform has to offer, so be sure to check out other blogs in our GCP 101 series. We'll be adding more soon!

GCP 101: How to Use Google Compute Engine

GCP 101: Building a Data Pipeline in Google Cloud Platform

GCP 101: How Autoscaling Works in the Google Cloud

Ready to find out your total cost of ownership (TCO) when you migrate to Google Cloud Platform?

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Greg Hohenbrink, Manager Cloud Solution Engineers

Greg Hohenbrink, Manager Cloud Solution Engineers

Greg takes great pride in his aptitude for technical advising, troubleshooting and analysis. With more than 15 years of experience in the public and private sector, he helps to shape the future for businesses of all sizes. He has a passion for excellence and integrity, and a knack for recommending the solutions that connect businesses to their employees, partners, and clients.

MORE POSTS BY GREG HOHENBRINK, MANAGER CLOUD SOLUTION ENGINEERS

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