Google introduces per-second billing for cloud services and acquires Bitium


Google Cloud Platform has followed the lead of Amazon Web Services and introduced per-second billing. 

The company has also acquired cloud identity and access management specialist Bitium.

AWS was apparently the first of the big cloud service providers to introduce per-second billing for its cloud services when it announced the move earlier this month.

Although it didn’t provide any reasons why it was moving to the new price structure, it would seem obvious that per-second billing would help customers reduce or control their costs more.

But GCP executives don’t think cost savings are a factor since the amount of money most customers can save through per-second billing would be too small.

In a company blog, Paul Nash, group product manager, Google compute engine, says: “In most cases, the difference between per-minute and per-second billing is very small – we estimate it as a fraction of a percent.”

However, he does add that customers whose websites and apps that get sudden increases and decreases in demand may be able to save money through per-second billing.

Nash says: “On the other hand, changing from per-hour billing to per-minute billing makes a big difference for applications – especially websites, mobile apps and data processing jobs – that get traffic spikes.

“The ability to scale up and down quickly could come at a significant cost if you had to pay for those machines for the full hour when you only needed them for a few minutes.”

Nash provides an example which involves coffee: “If, on average, your VM [virtual machine’s] lifetime was being rounded up by 30 seconds with per-minute billing, then your savings from running 2,600 vCPUs each day would be enough to pay for your morning coffee – at 99 cents, assuming you can somehow find coffee for 99 cents.

“By comparison, the waste from per-hour billing would be enough to buy a coffee maker every morning – over $100 in this example.”

It’s obviously too early to tell whether Google’s move will lure away customers from AWS, or stop them crossing over to AWS, but it definitely shows the heightened competition in the cloud services market.

AWS, which has the largest cloud market share, earns more revenue than the next several companies combined – that includes Google, Microsoft, IBM and others.

But the chasing pack seems determined to take at least some of Amazon’s market share.

Amazon has responded by not only introducing per-second billing, but also introducing virtual machines which have 4 terabytes of random access memory.

By comparison, Microsoft Azure virtual machines are said ti have 2 TB of RAM, and Google Cloud’s VMs have 416 gigabytes of RAM.

But at least Google has stolen a march on AWS by making its per-second billing immediately, which means customers can afford more coffee as of now.

AWS will introduce its per-second billing option from next month.

Another move by Google is the acquisition of Bitium, which provides enterprise customers with identity and access management solutions, single sign-on and provision for cloud applications.

In a company blog, Karthik Lakshminarayanan, director of product Management, G Suite and cloud identity, says: “Our enterprise customers want a comprehensive solution for identity and access management and SSO [single sign-on] that works across their modern cloud and mobile environments.”