As Google handles some of the world’s largest datasets, it’s no surprise that they continue to develop services that can handle the full-data life cycle. Last May, Google Cloud introduced three new products that can help organizations manage data and applications on a unified platform: Dataplex, Analytics Hub, and Datastream.
These tools make it easier for organizations to manage data in one place, share data with other organizations, and integrate new data streams in real-time. Indeed, Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP) is angling itself to be the leading solution for organizations contending with big data — but what exactly is Google Cloud?
Google Cloud: History, Benefits, and Applications
Before talking about Google Cloud specifically, it’s best to explain what cloud computing is in general. Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services over the internet (“cloud”) and on a pay-as-you-go basis. In order for organizations to store and utilize big data, companies have to own and manage private computing infrastructure or data centers, which can be costly and complicated to maintain.
Instead of concerning themselves over the physical hardware, organizations can simply “rent” space and applications from cloud computing providers like Google. They only need to pay for what they use, when they use it. The files and programs are stored on external servers far away, accessed remotely through an internet connection. In turn, cloud computing providers benefit from significant economies of scale by delivering the same services to a wide range of clients.
Although there are some downsides to cloud computing, it works well because it allows companies to save space and access their data from almost anywhere. Independent consumers also enjoy cloud computing through office productivity platforms and streaming services – you use the cloud every time you check Gmail, back up photos on your smartphone, and stream on Netflix or Spotify.
What Sets Google Cloud Apart?
The Google Cloud Platform is a portfolio of cloud computing services that grew around the initial Google App Engine framework, where web applications are hosted on Google’s data centers. Launched in 2008, Google Cloud is currently one of the premier cloud computing platforms on
the market, right after Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. As Google Cloud continues to add more tools and services, the platform grows increasingly competitive.
Many users appreciate the Google Cloud Platform for its reliable, scalable, and easy-to-use tools. The pricing is also more reasonable compared to other cloud providers, as you pay monthly depending on the time you spend using GCP. And because Google recently invested in the FASTER Cable System, the speed and performance of its cloud technology have surpassed other cloud service providers.
Services of Google Cloud Platform
GCP allows organizations to access applications, storage, networking, processing power, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence tools, to name a few. Some of the most important services offered on the Google Cloud Platform are:
Infrastructure-as-a-Service offers fundamental network, computing, and storage resources to consumers on-demand and on a pay-as-you-go basis over the internet. IaaS allows companies to bypass the cost and hassle of acquiring, managing, and maintaining an IT infrastructure. With the Google Cloud Platform, you would have access to servers, bandwidth, network connections, and storage capacity on virtualized computing resources.
Google Cloud takes care of running the data centers where all the physical hardware is located, while you remain responsible for configuring and maintaining any operating systems or apps running on their infrastructure. IaaS is valuable if you’re looking for flexible, resilient, and secure systems. You can add more servers and disks in minutes, although you’d still need time for configuration.
The GCP systems are also built in a fault-tolerant environment and replicated across multiple data centers, which limits downtime for users. Google data centers also have intrusion detection, end-to-end encryption for network traffic, and hardware designed for enhanced security and performance.
Platform-as-a-Service elevates IaaS by equipping organizations with additional tools for software development. PaaS provides organizations with a complete platform of hardware, software, and infrastructure to speed up the development and deployment of applications — without the cost, complexity, and rigidity of building and maintaining the platform on-premise. When the databases, file storage, software development tools, and operating system are all ready to use, programmers can focus on coding, testing, and deploying apps in familiar development environments.
This innovation has transformed the way every single piece of tech today has been designed. Engineers and designers can now use cloud-based software for creating PCBs or printed circuit boards, which are the heart of every modern device. PaaS has helped eliminate bottlenecks in the lengthy and often expensive process of tech innovation, like design review, design data alignment, or loss management, as staying on a cloud-based platform allows all stakeholders to collaborate easily in real-time.
PaaS provides users with scalable, on-demand computing power and systems that can tolerate extreme spikes in traffic. It can automatically scale from handling no traffic to millions of requests in seconds, then scale back down when demand drops. GCP will also take care of routine tasks like monitoring, logging, rolling out security patches, and load balancing, which means you spend less time maintaining your infrastructure.
Software-as-a-Service is offered when a cloud provider assumes complete responsibility for delivering an application to end-user devices. Users can work from any device by accessing the application whenever and wherever they need it. SaaS encompasses standard office applications like Google Workspaces, as well as apps for vertical industries or custom app solutions.
When you access the software-as-a-service on the cloud, there is no need to install an app or extensions; nothing is stuck in your hardware. SaaS platforms have been especially useful during the coronavirus pandemic, as these allow everyone to work together online easily. Users are also not responsible for maintaining the SaaS software; if something is wrong, it’s up to the cloud provider to fix it.
Big Data Analytics
Cloud computing allows you to leverage vast quantities of structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data to harness value. Big data analytics is the use of diverse and advanced analytical techniques on large datasets. Google’s Cloud Platform can process and analyze datasets that contain terabytes or zettabytes of information in a few seconds, providing real-time, scalable insights through the cloud.
When we’re online, for example, we generate huge amounts of data by the second. Our digital footprints are collected by retailers and suppliers to understand consumer buying patterns and trends. Websites (Technology, Music, Fashion) and social network platforms (Facebook, Twitter) offer companies analytics extracted from big data, so they can use this information to create targeted advertising and marketing campaigns. GCP enables companies to compute big data specific to certain segments of the population.
As technology grows, it requires more and more space to store its data and run programs— which can be a hassle. A game from the 1990s, for example, would have needed only around 8MB of storage. On the other hand, smartphone games after 2017 would require at least 30GB of space to present high-level graphics smoothly. Cloud storage is the reason that we can enjoy the latter.
Cloud storage allows you to store, access, and retrieve files across multiple devices; we upload and download all our files to the “cloud of stuff” that is the internet. Google’s Cloud Platform offers convenient, high-speed, and scalable storage with integrated security that meets data privacy compliance requirements.
With cloud storage, we don’t have to maintain and backup data every day. Maintaining data involves collecting tapes and drives, then dispatching them to a backup facility, which inherently poses problems as the drives travel between the origin and backup site. Cloud-based backup makes things easier by automatically dispatching data to any location across the wire, without compromising security or worrying about capacity.
A hybrid cloud is a computing environment that connects an organization’s on-premise, private cloud service with a third-party, public cloud-like GCP into a single, flexible infrastructure that can run applications and workloads. Mixing public and private cloud resources allows organizations to move between two clouds when circumstances or costs change.
Many software and app developers test and deploy their products on a cloud service first. Once they feel that it’s more efficient and cost-effective to move their product on-site, a hybrid cloud model allows them to do that easily. Or in some cases, companies opt to keep their sensitive workloads in an on-premise cloud and their less critical resources with a third-party cloud provider. Having more data deployment options can keep organizational workloads agile, scalable, and cost-friendly while staying compliant with data restrictions.
The Future of Technology
Overall, we can see how Google’s Cloud Platform has reshaped the way we handle data and create new technologies. Aside from being accessible for many, the sophisticated Google Cloud Platform can be used to maximize productivity across organizations. Different features like file-sharing, synchronization, and disaster recovery can allow multiple people to manage large amounts of data conveniently. And we can expect to see much more from GCP in the coming years.
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