Google Cloud Platform: Everything You Need To Know

Reading Time: 6 minutes

What is Google Cloud?

Google Cloud platform is one of the Alphabet Corporation’s flagship platforms that helps provide cloud storage and other operations to developers and coders from all over the world. One of its significant uses has been the development and setup of applications and software that require large CPU spaces. 

Built-in Google applications like TensorFlow, Google Analytics, Google Business, and Google Drive help users in streamlining projects much faster and handle them all under a single platform.

Google Cloud can be linked with several applications to provide backend support for processes, including native app development, machine learning, cross-platform tools, e-commerce management, and agile development. Also, as with any other cloud service, Google charges a specific fee for using its applications based on the server occupation and monthly list of uses.

Additionally, the Google Cloud Platform also features several options for significant data development, including a plethora of storage options as well as on-time tracking bundles.

Why is Cloud computing important?

Google’s foray in the digital space to offer cloud options to users was done as a distinct way of:

– garnering businesses and corporations to host their products online, and

– to leverage its secondary applications(like Gmail or Google Business).

One of the biggest reasons why cloud computing is essential is that it helps businesses move away from the nuances of primitive systems.

With unlimited space and no restrictions on the movement of data, businesses can host more applications year on year without moving to new platforms or changing business plans every year. Cloud computing helps bring a business’s development team under one umbrella and better connect with other departments to make deployment faster and cheaper. 

On account of the added functionality with agile tools, businesses can also connect with consumers and clients better. Any large business that is growing past beyond its capacity to handle and control workforce and expenses has to look towards systems that can accommodate giant corporations. Cloud computing is necessary for IT companies and groups that mainly deal with software to remain well in tune with modern practices and tools. 

The cost of not migrating or shifting to smarter technology can be hugely detrimental to the future processes of any company looking to expand in the market. Hence, exploring cloud computing options is a smart move to save on infrastructure cost mainly. 

Features of Google Cloud

Billing

Google Cloud is tasked with billing in minute-level increments (with a 10-minute minimum charge), so you only pay for the computing time that is used upon the service. Users can receive discounted prices for long-running workloads. Also, those who use Virtual Machines for a month can receive discounts for a month, which is different from the prepayment system used by Azure and Amazon Web Services. Google offers free packages available for first-time users.

Live Migration

Live migrations of Virtual Machines are much simpler using the transfer compatibilities, which is absent from services like AWS and Azure. Based on the package chosen, on-time transfers can be added as well. Along with this, users also report no noticeable downgrade in performance when migrating machines between host machines.

No need for user intervention

Patches and updates occur seamlessly in the background, which replaces the need for user intervention. Google also offers resizing of persistent disks without any downtime through portals or CLIs to resize the live disks.

Testing Aid

Different tiers of packages offer advanced performance for carrying out user testing reports and surveys through its Adsense program that links actual users to work on websites. It also facilitates a complete dashboard view and control for e-commerce websites through Google Analytics. Additionally, users can now add options for real-time tracking and carry out split tests faster with better KPIs.

Security Features

Google Cloud platform enables traffic management and control for other users in the same domain. Security and safety for areas can also be viewed from user terminals. All transfers are validated through a system of security checks, and all personnel are updated on time.

Benefits of the Google Cloud Platform

Some of the many benefits of Google Cloud are:

– Google Cloud Hosting Plans are cheaper than other platforms. 

– All that users need to do is sign up with all the necessary credit cards and bank details. Users can choose to change subscription plans as required in the future.

– Users can access the data from any location remotely and perform all primary functions that the principal buyer is subscribed to.

– Fewer load times across user devices also makes it a breeze to use the service.

– Google Cloud Platform offers services for Live Migration through Virtual Machines. By having such an extensive network, Google Cloud Hosting allows users to migrate their machines.

– Users are offered maximum privacy and scalability over extensive networks. Private Network is the main backbone of the Google Cloud Hosting service. 

– Google uses fiber optic cables to ensure more efficiency and spread networks faster.

– A security model that looks over all platforms, including Gmail, Youtube, and other portals. 

– With a strong network of ISPs, secure networks can be placed faster.

– Storage for Google Cloud users also comes with the option of redundancy. If certain parts of an application are not functioning, Google will create an inbuilt redundant backup.

– This allows the same data to be stored at two different locations. Not only does this ensure that nothing gets lost but also improves data integrity.

Cloud Computing Statistics

Let’s start with the most important feature that sets Google Cloud platform apart- the computing power. Normal instances are cheaper on the Google Cloud Platform as the Compute Engine alone is typically between 40% – 50% cheaper than AWS and Azure. Also, users enjoy more IOPs for less than a third of the cost. This indicates the input and output operations per second and the frequency with which a device can perform such tasks. 

Detailed analysis from revered technology heads has proven it time and again that Google Cloud platform is the best choice for deploying virtual machines. Local solid-state disks(SSDs) are now up to 63% cheaper. 

With the company now investing in the FASTER Cable System, which gives the network a boost of 60 Tbps, the Google Cloud Platform network now has the largest capacity undersea cable ever constructed.

Google also recently became one of six members with sole ownership of a pair of 100Gb/s x 100 wavelengths optical transmission systems.

Ever since 2017, Google Cloud Platform launched a premium tier and a standard tier network, which officially made it the first major public cloud to offer a tiered cloud network. While the tiers are pretty similar, they differ in terms of the services for redundancy.  As of 2018, more than 59% of surveyed companies online stated that they were planning on either shifting to a higher redundancy package or getting their Business linked with the service.

What is the scope of cloud computing in Business

Contrary to the popular perception that Google products are perhaps only useful for IT companies, heads of various sectors are hailing it as an integral part of their infrastructure. The uses of AI and its applications have spread far to the upper echelons of the industry, and the reaction is noteworthy.

Among the biggest changes that cloud computing can bring to businesses is an automated command central of sorts that allow owners to pick and choose every move that the Business makes.

Cloud Computing for e-commerce

For e-commerce websites, the need for cloud computing cannot be stated enough. From increasing lead conversion rates to performing A/B split tests on websites and optimizing sales funnels for greater revenue, cloud computing can do it all.

Cloud Computing for small businesses

For a mid-tier or a small business that is looking to automate processes or take the leap towards expanding, cloud computing can offer great deals on testing the waters before making big steps. Some criticisms from the layoffs are common, but the result is a stronger sales force for owners.

Avoid human limitations

Devoid of human limitations, cloud computing frameworks can work in effect 24/7 and provide key insights into the pain points and opportunities for a business to grow. It is not just sales that get all the powerup but marketing as well. With consumer brands become a dime a dozen in this economy, setting oneself apart and knowing what consumers want is vital. Where humans fail to perform such tasks, cloud computing can alleviate the stresses of modern competition and tailor content using data to gain more leads.

Why Google Cloud should be a definite consideration

It’s hip. It’s now, and it’s going to be here forever. Due to the near omnipresent nature of Google on the web, one can anticipate every resource, link, website, customer, client, and group to be linked to it. Missing out on Google Cloud only makes it tougher to stay in the loop. But that’s not to say that others aren’t gaining on the lead.

With more and more cloud management systems becoming common, packaged prices for setups decrease, and the hunt to appease customers with more offers is through the roof. Making use of this price competitiveness is important for any emerging business that clings its purse too tightly. 

The endless number of features on Google Cloud are only accentuated by the open-source style of coding that allows developers to add new functions and capabilities as time moves on. On top of that, the Cloud doesn’t have any complex layouts to confuse novice business owners, making it a default choice for them.

Pricing is well structured as the users are charged by the computing capacities allotted and not the time spent. Additionally, Google always springs out deals for businesses every now and then, making Google Cloud a must-have.

Less number of breakdowns, consistent speeds, unlimited storage(on certain packages), powerful AI tools, and assessment tools are just a small list of what benefits users get.

Conclusion

Cloud Computing isn’t rocket science. It used to be a netherworld technology that only the big names could afford, and even then, hiring the best talents to use it properly was always a problem. But times have changed and allowed the industry to grow itself into this amazing subset of computers. The time is now to take full advantage of what it has to offer and bring it to the development rooms of any business.

Now if you want to know more, you can enrol in our cloud computing course– with training from industry professionals, use cases, and hands-on projects.

AWS solution to build Real-time Data processing Application using Kinesis, Lambda, DynamoDB, S3

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Capstone Project by Amit Bajaj and Sathya Guruprasad

Introduction

Cloud Computing has become very popular due to the multiple benefits it provides and is being adopted by businesses worldwide. Flexibility to scale up or down as per the business needs, faster and efficient disaster recovery, subscription-based models which reduce the high cost of hardware, and flexible working for employees are some of the benefits of cloud that attracts businesses. Similar to cloud, Data Analytics is another crucial area which businesses are exploring for their growth. With the exponential rise in the amount of data available on the internet is a result of the boom in the usage of social media, mobile apps, IoT devices, sensors and so on. It has become imperative for the organisations to analyse this data to get insights into their businesses and take appropriate action.

AWS provides a reliable platform for solving complex problems where cost-effective infrastructure can be built with great ease at low cost. AWS provides a wide range of managed services, including computing, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services and many more. 

Problem Statement:

We have analysed multiple software solutions which perform analysis on data collected from the market and provide information as well as suggestions and provide better customer experience. This includes trade application providing stock price, taxi companies providing locations of nearby taxis, journey plan applications providing live updates on the different transport media and many more.

We have considered a “server-less” platform / “Server-less Computing Execution Model” to build the real-time data-processing app. Architecture is based on managed services provided by AWS.

What is “Server-less”?

A cloud-based execution model in which the cloud provider dynamically allocates and runs the server. This is a consumption-based model where pricing is directly proportional to consumer use. AWS takes complete ownership of operational responsibilities eliminating infrastructure management and availability with higher uptime. 

Services Consumed:

  1. Kinesis – Kinesis Data Stream- Kinesis Data Analytics- Kinesis Firehose
  2. Athena
  3. Lambda
  4. Dynamo DB
  5. Amazon S3
  6. AWS CLI

Architecture:

AWS solution to build Real-time Data processing Application - cloud computing

Without building a sizable infrastructure, how to receive data from different sources for cloud-based infrastructure?

Kinesis, a managed service by AWS, Amazon Kinesis makes it easy to collect, process, and analyse real-time, streaming data so you can get timely insights and react quickly to new information. Kinesis Datastream allows user to receive data from data generation source. We have created amazon kinesis data stream using AWS CLI commands which is expected to consume data from the data source.

Technical + Functional Flow 

Create Kinesis data streams: 

      1. Create a stream in Kinesis using AWS Console or AWS CLI Commands; one to receive data from Data generator and another to write post processing. Data generator will produce the data which will be read and written to input/source data stream. Kinesis Analytics App will process and write data to Output/destination stream.
      2. We have created a program to generate data, and with the help of AWS SDKs and AWS CLI commands transmitted to Kinesis Data Streams. Data can be generated in various fashion:
        1. Using IoT devices
        2. Live trackers
        3. GPS trackers
        4. API
        5. Data generator tools (in case of Analysis)

Create a Kinesis Analytics App to Aggregate data

      1. Build a Kinesis Data Analytics application to read from the input/source data stream and write to output/destination data stream in formatted fashion in a specified time interval.
      2. It is very important to stop the application when not in use to save unwanted cost.

Data Storage and Processing:

      1. Lambda, another managed service by AWS processes data from trigger data stream and write to dynamo DB
      2. Lambda function works on trigger basis and cost model is strictly driven by consumption. No cost is incurred from user when function is not running. Data is stored in Dynamo DB and can be accessed in standard fashion.

Kinesis Firehose, S3 and Athena:

    1. Kinesis Firehose acts as mediator between Kinesis Datastream and S3 where Data received from Kinesis Datastream will be predefined S3 bucket in specified format
    2. Amazon Athena is server-less interactive query service which enables user to glorify data stored in S3 Bucket for analysis. 

Amazon CLI, AWS Cloud formation and AWS IAM also plays a very important role in building Cloud based infrastructure and ensure secure connectivity within and outside AWS cloud world. 

Conclusion:

Using AWS services, we were able to create a real-time data processing application based on serverless architecture which is capable of accepting data through Kinesis data streams, processing through Kinesis Data Analytics, triggering Lambda Function and storing in DynamoDB. The architecture can be reused for multiple data types from various data sources and formats with minor modifications. We have used all the managed services provided by AWS which led to zero infrastructure management efforts. 

Capstone project has helped us in building practical expertise on AWS services like Kinesis, Lambda, Dynamo DB, Athena, S3, Identity and Access Management, Serverless Architecture and Managed Services. We have also learnt the Go programming language to build pseudo data producer programs. AWS CLI has helped us to connect on-premise infrastructure with cloud services.  

This project is a part of Great Learning’s post graduate program in Cloud Computing. 

Authors
Amit Bajaj – Project Manager at Cognizant
Sathya Guruprasad – Infrastructure Specialist at IBM Pvt Ltd

Experts Talk Series: Migrating to the cloud

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Episode 1 – Cloud migration

Migrating to the cloud is a buzzword these days. Every enterprise wants to say that they are “100% cloud-enabled”. If you are an enterprise looking to move over to the cloud, how should you go about it?

First off, let’s just clarify that “100% cloud-enabled” is a myth. Most enterprises will have a portion of their business running in their own datacenter, also known as on-premise. Therefore, a better way to quantify cloud enablement would be “100% of all applications that have been found fit for the cloud have been migrated”.

How to decide if you really need to migrate?

To get the process off the ground, the first thing you have to decide is whether the cloud is the right fit for your use-case. If your application landscape consists of legacy code or is highly optimized for the hardware it is being run on, it is safe to say the cloud will do more harm than good. But, if your application comprises of a set of loosely coupled components, each being a small highly specialized hardware-independent function, these seem like ripe candidates for a cloud-based server-less implementation.

There should also be a good reason for this endeavour. Change for change’s sake does not always equal to progress. The pros and cons of a cloud-based infrastructure must be taken into account, along with factors like cost and manpower requirements and whether they can be met.

So you want to migrate. What’s next?

Have you decided that you want to jump into the cloud? If so, let’s venture together into the labyrinth of choices you will have to make during this journey.

First, you will have to look at various business dimensions while contemplating your cloud implementation. For example, immediate cost benefits will be highest on IaaS implementations, after a lift and shift of on-premises applications to the cloud. Likewise, other dimensions like time to market, functional responsiveness, and scaling have to be taken into consideration and a balance has to be found. This will help you to decide if your implementation will be IaaS, PaaS or SaaS-based. Perhaps a combination may yield the best results.

The next step is app evaluation. As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to check which applications are fit for the cloud. Low-risk applications from a business perspective can be safely migrated. However, an enterprise may feel more secure storing trade secrets, proprietary functionality, and security services on local servers. Let this be noted though, on-premise servers do not guarantee 100% security any more but cloud providers do. As a matter of fact, cloud providers take security very seriously and take strong measures to make sure that you know exactly where, and by whom your data is being accessed. Also, only authorized users can access your data.

You may be on the fence about migrating certain services, like client-server applications and supporting functions. For such cases, an ROI analysis will help you decide. Please note that on-premises implementation allows the enterprise to take advantage of financial levers like depreciation. In the end, let me emphasize that these decisions are highly case-specific and are not cast in stone. 

An application in an enterprise is hardly ever standalone. Hence, you will have to go through various levels of integration. The usual options are synchronous and asynchronous integration. The on-premises data centre can be integrated with the cloud to create a hybrid cloud deployment topology. This means the cloud applications can access the on-premises applications directly, though a bit of latency will be at play. Maybe asynchronous or batch-based integration will help hide the latency.

The migration process 

It is a myth that cloud migration is a single-step process. As mentioned earlier, the first step is usually a lift-and-shift approach. This is where the existing on-premises architecture is cloned onto the cloud. This relieves the enterprise of the burden of maintaining a data centre, but that is all the benefits you’ll ever get from this approach. After that, gradually, some of the functionality can be re-engineered to take advantage of managed cloud services, such as a database can be moved over to a cloud-provided database. Then there is the concept of cloud-native applications, where new components or functionality can be designed from the get-go to take advantage of platform-specific services built for media, analytics, or content distribution. This way the workload on the enterprise is reduced until you can be solely responsible for the business processes while letting the cloud handle the heavy lifting.

The next step is to choose a cloud provider. Your hired or in-house Cloud expert can help you make an informed decision from myriad choices available to you. Which of these is suitable for you is highly situational, and requires you to take several factors into consideration, like cost, software or platform requirements, compliance requirements, and geographical zone availability. You may also want to take advantage of a specific API or managed service offered by a service provider. It should be noted that most of the top cloud providers have a nearly similar set of services, so if you don’t have any highly specialised requirements, you cannot go wrong with either of them.  

The on-premises setup then has to be restructured to fit the cloud architecture. Your cloud provider will definitely have a list of reference architectures available based on real-life use-cases and a list of best practices to follow, including but not limited to data and application migration tools. They also have an extensive collection of white papers to aid you in this task.

Implementing the migration plan

The above discussion concludes the planning and selection stage of cloud migration. All that is left now is to implement the plan. This should begin with drawing up and implementing a proof of concept. Not only will this allow you to run performance comparisons with your existing application, but it will also highlight unforeseen challenges and complexity levels which may show up during the actual migration process, allowing you to be prepared for the same. This will also give you a good idea of the reliability of the chosen cloud provider and will allow you to evaluate its support system.

While performing the actual migration, you should be careful to minimize the resulting disruption time and service outages. Dry runs should be conducted to identify potential failure points and minimize errors during the process.  Every use case will have its own set of steps to follow during the migration, but it generally starts by taking a backup of the databases, followed by the deployment of applications, and migrating the database. Also, there will be quite a few application components to manage and set up, like middleware, caching, warehousing, and file systems. All these components must be planned and mapped to the relevant cloud service. Don’t forget to set access roles and policies! Make sure you have a clear idea of who should be able to access your applications and which components they can access, then assign appropriate roles for them. Parallel deployments of the application in the cloud and on-premises must be performed to check performance and detect failures.

Benchmarking tests are a must. This will let you know how your cloud application runs in comparison to your on-premises setup and will allow you to fine-tune your setup and be sure if it is ready for deployment.

Congratulations! You have successfully migrated to the cloud. As mentioned before, cloud migration is not a goal but a journey. Every new application will have to be evaluated whether it is a better fit for cloud or on-premises implementation. If it is destined for the cloud, integration with other applications that may still be on-premises will have to be taken into account. As new services are released by the provider, existing on-premises applications will have to be re-evaluated to see if they can take advantage of those new services. 

As you can see, this journey is not easy, but once it has been completed, just sit back and watch the clouds do their magic! But with regular management and prompting from you of course!

Experts Talk Series is a repository of articles written and published by cloud experts. Here we talk in-depth about cloud concepts, applications, and implementation practices.