4 Features that Make GCE Better Than AWS

August 6, 2014
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Google Compute Engine (GCE) is a service that provides virtual machines (VMs) that run on Google infrastructure. Google Compute Engine offers scale, performance, and value that allows you to easily launch large compute clusters on Google's infrastructure. There are no upfront investments and you can run up to thousands of virtual CPUs on a system that has been designed from the ground up to be fast, and to offer strong consistency of performance. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of remote computing services that together make up a cloud-computing platform, offered over the Internet by Amazon.com. The most central and well-known of these services are Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3. The service is advertised as providing a large computing capacity (potentially many servers) much faster and cheaper than building a physical server farm. GCE and AWS are comparable for quite a few things, such as fundamentally how they work; however, it appears that GCE has several advantages that AWS lacks. Here are the top 4 features that make GCE better than AWS:

  1. GCE's Load Balancer does not need pre-warming, it scales instantly to support spiky traffic. Unlike Amazon’s Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) which is not designed to handle sudden spikes. Customers need to request AWS to pre-warm the ELB to get it ready to handle the expected load. This requires a subscription to AWS support.
  2. GCE’s Persistent Disks (PD) can be mounted read-write by one virtual machine or read-only by many VMs. On the other hand, Amazon EBS can be only attached to one instance at a time. This forces the customers to implement a shared storage to synchronize static content across instances.
  3. GCE's Network I/O across regions are generally much faster than AWS because they leverage their global network infrastructure. In contrast, AWS uses public Internet for communicating between the regions.
  4. GCE allows customers to upgrade an Ephemeral IP to a Reserved IP allowing the VM to hold a persistent IP address, whereas Amazon EC2 Elastic IP needs to be re-associated after each stop and start operation on the VMs.

On top of these four main reasons, when we compare the CPU and RAM performance offered by GCE and AWS given the price of each different option, we found a mix of signals. 

We can tell that the price for AWS RIs are on the lower end of the spectrum for many cases, an upfront commitment and upfront payments are required. These RIs also create lock-in, and with the speed of the price slashes from both Google and Amazon, users who reserved 1 or 3 year instances will not enjoy certain benefits. On the other end, Google uses sustained-use pricing which correlates the actual price with on-demand baseline price. This price is likely to drop in the future. 

Therefore, if you are expecting your usage of the cloud to grow in the future and you are not able to predict such increases, GCE provides a lower TCO in the long run. On the other hand, if you have a high cash spending limit and you know exactly how much usage will be incurred, then AWS RIs will be the money saver.