The Ultimate Guide to Google Cloud Platform

Google has always been known for innovation. In recent years, it has emerged as an especially competitive opponent in the field of cloud computing, and it’s well-poised to rise to the top.

Google Cloud Platform offers some of the best solutions available when it comes to pricing, performance, stability, security, and more. Here is a complete guide to Google Cloud Platform.

What is Google Cloud Platform?
Google Cloud Platform Categories
How to Use Google Cloud Platform

What is Google Cloud Platform?

At the most basic level, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a provider of computing resources for distributing and operating web applications. The platform provides a location for individuals and businesses to build and run software. Using the internet to connect users of the software, it also tracks each and every resource that is used.

Cloud platforms are useful when you want to present your service as an application instead of a website. Competing platforms from Microsoft and Amazon exist, but Google’s platform is different. GCP’s competitive advantages include cost control, user friendliness, and successful deployment of complex apps.

Many use Google Cloud Platform when they need the power of hyperscale data centers.

What are the benefits of this power?

  • Reach users across the globe
  • Utilize sophisticated analytics / AI functions
  • Utilize enormous data storage
  • Cost-efficiency

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing means using remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data instead using a local server or computer. Cloud data centers can be located anywhere in the world and can be accessed from anywhere in the world as long as there’s an internet connection. Cloud computing provides storage, databases, networking, and other internet services which allow businesses to offer faster, better, and more flexible resources to their customers

After years of cloud development, the benefits of using this model have become clear:

  • Pay-per-use
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Scalability
  • Security
  • Manageability

When was Google Cloud Announced?

Google Cloud Platform, initially titled Google App Engine, was originally launched as a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) resource for developers in 2008. This allowed developers to build and host apps through Google’s infrastructure. Over time, Google has built upon this concept, adding complementary tools like data storage and the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) element.

Google continues to grow as an IaaS provider and improve their products and services. The addition of data analysis services and monitoring tools, among other resources, have made GCP a top competitor in the cloud market.

Google Cloud Platform Categories

GCP offers a wide variety of services to its users. Whether you need infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or software-as-a-service (SaaS), Google has your back. If you need more specific service options to choose from, one of the best ways to navigate and get the most out of the platform is by browsing the service categories.

Google Cloud Platform products fit into the following categories:

  1. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  2. API Management
  3. Compute
  4. Data Analytics
  5. Databases
  6. Developer Tools
  7. Internet of Things (IoT)
  8. Hybrid and Multi-Cloud
  9. Management Tools
  10. Media
  11. Migration
  12. Networking
  13. Security
  14. Storage

Next, we’ll dive into each category to explain what it is and why it might matter to you.

Google Cloud Platform Services by Category

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

According to a McKinsey report, companies that fully adopt AI will double their cash flow by 2030, while companies that don’t might experience a 20% decline. Google’s AI and machine learning services are expansive, innovative, and built with user security in mind. Most importantly, Google makes these services accessible to all businesses.

AI and machine learning have already been proven to help businesses solve problems. These services can be made to perform mundane tasks so that human time can be better spent on more important or complex tasks.

Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine, Cloud AutoML, and AI Hub are very important tools in this category. The Cloud Machine Learning Engine is a managed service that helps businesses build machine learning models using mainstream frameworks. Cloud AutoML lets developers quickly train custom models. Finally, AI Hub serves as a team collaboration tool.

AI and Machine Learning Services:

  • AI Hub (beta)
  • Cloud AutoML (beta)
  • Cloud TPU
  • Cloud Machine Learning Engine
  • Diagflow Enterprise Edition
  • Cloud Natural Language
  • Cloud Speech-to-Text
  • Cloud Text-to-Speech
  • Cloud Translation
  • Cloud Vision
  • Cloud Video Intelligence
  • Cloud Inference API (alpha), and more

API Management

Google APIs (application programming interfaces) are developed by Google and allow for integration with Google Services like Gmail, Translate, or Maps. They also foster interactions between systems, applications, mobile devices, and apps, to ensure quick, secure, and simple access to data and business processes. This category offers excellent solutions for data security. After all, poor API hygiene can put your business at risk for security breaches and the exposure of sensitive data.

Google’s API Management platform exists to help businesses create, manage, and maintain all aspects of their APIs. From development and design, to analytics and monetization, Google has every aspect of the process covered.

Two important tools in this category are API Analytics and the Developer Portal. Analytics are always incredibly important, and Google’s API Analytics provide a detailed end-to-end picture across API programs. This tool gives you actionable insights that will improve your APIs both internally and externally. The Developer Portal is customizable and easy to use. Your developers will quickly be working with products that meet their needs, allowing you to explore new business opportunities.

Google’s API Management Services include:

  • API Analytics
  • API Monetization
  • Cloud Endpoints
  • Developer Portal
  • Cloud Healthcare API

Compute

Google’s Compute Services were created to provide fast, high-quality services that encompass every part of your computing infrastructure.

The most impactful products in this category are the Google App Engine and the Compute Engine. The Google App Engine is a PaaS (platform-as-a-service) designed to run Java, PHP, and other applications. The platform is used for developing and hosting web applications. One highlight of this product is the automatic scaling feature that provides more resources for an app as demand increases.

The Compute Engine falls under the IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) category. It allows you to build using the infrastructure that runs Google’s search engine and YouTube, among other things. This engine will keep your applications running seamlessly and flawlessly, no matter what.

Google’s Compute Products are created to be smart, scalable, and customizable to your needs. If you want faster innovation and flexible, scalable resources, dig deeper into this category.

Google Compute Products include:

  • Compute Engine
  • Shielded VMs
  • Container Security
  • App Engine
  • Cloud Functions
  • GPU, and more

Data Analytics

The importance of clean, high-quality data analytics is more important than ever before. Data-driven businesses are the most successful, and Google is making data more accessible and easier to understand than ever before.

The most important tool in this category is the data analysis service BigQuery. This service allows businesses to analyze big data and offers scalable data storage, performance of queries as needed, and sharing of data insights.

The ability to gain actionable insights from your data is priceless. Google Cloud’s Data Analytics can tell you more about your customers and your business than you ever thought possible. Use the computing power of Google to become more innovative with your data while keeping security tight.

Data Analytics Products include:

  • BigQuery
  • Cloud Dataflow
  • Cloud Dataproc
  • Cloud Datalab
  • Cloud Dataprep
  • Cloud Composer, and more

Databases

At the most basic level, a database is a virtual organization of data in a way that they can be accessed and managed easily. But, GCP Databases are more than that; you can migrate, manage, and maintain your data with Google’s safe and reliable services. GCP Databases are not just storage, they are modernized and integrated with unmatched security features.

GCP Databases has six different database options, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other; it simply depends on which product best fits your needs. Does your project require full relational database capability? Try SQL. Do you need vertical scalability? Horizontal scalability? Both? Try Spanner. Looking for structured or unstructured document databases? Google handy chart asks “What are you building?” to help you find the right product for you.

The GCP Databases are:

  • Cloud SQL
  • Cloud Bigtable
  • Cloud Spanner
  • Cloud Firestore
  • Firebase Realtime Database
  • Cloud Memorystore

Developer Tools

Google’s Developer Tools are tools and libraries to enhance developer productivity on the Google Cloud Platform. What exactly does this mean? Developer Tools offer solutions for:

  • Continuous integration
  • Infrastructure as code
  • Continuous Delivery
  • DevOps

Developer Tools offers products for coding, building, managing artifacts, and deployment. A couple of the most important are Cloud SDK and Cloud Build.

Cloud SDK helps you manage everything hosted on Google Cloud. It offers an array of product-specific command-line tools for Google Cloud, GSuite, BigQuery, and Kubernetes. It also has language-specific Cloud Client Libraries and API Client Libraries that use each supported language’s natural nuances, allowing for developer workflow optimization. Meanwhile, Cloud Build lets developers quickly build software across all languages and environments.

Some Developer Tools include:

  • Cloud SDK
  • Container Registry
  • Cloud Build
  • Cloud Source Repositories
  • Cloud Tasks

Internet-of-Things (IoT)

Broadly defined by Oxford, IoT is “the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects.” This category has been expanding rapidly, from security systems and thermostats, to cars, commercial environments, and beyond. With this in mind, you can see why it’s important that Google provides services to manage and integrate these devices.

Google offers two impactful products in this category; IoT Core and Edge TPU. The IoT Core allows you to securely connect, manage, and take in data from just a few or millions of your devices dispersed worldwide. Edge TPU is made to run highly trained AI at the edge so that both privacy and bandwidth standards can be maintained. By collecting, processing, and analyzing this data, you can optimize your business and anticipate problems.

  • Cloud IoT Core
  • Edge TPU (beta)

Hybrid and Multi-Cloud

Anthos is the GCP hybrid and multi-cloud solution. It’s a 100% software-based solution that embraces open standards, thereby reducing the risk of locking into a single vendor. It gives you the ability to run your applications in a hybrid or multi-cloud environment and offers greater awareness, consistency, and control of applications. Security is integrated into each stage of the process.

The most important products in this category are Anthos GKE and Anthos Config Management. Anthos GKE allows you to utilize Kubernetes and cloud technology anywhere. It offers secure clusters, centralized multi-cluster management, and a consistent Kubernetes experience. Anthos Config Management lets you create common configuration across your entire infrastructure. It also manages changes and distributes them to Kubernetes clusters so that you’re always up to date.

At the end of the day, Anthos was created to simplify your life and satisfy all of your technology needs in one place. Other products offered in this category are:

  • Google Kubernetes Engine
  • GKE On-Prem
  • Anthos GKE
  • Anthos Config Management
  • Serverless
  • Stackdriver, and more

Management Tools

Google Cloud Platform’s management tools let you develop, deploy, and manage your cloud apps by streamlining management and workflows, empowering developers.

The two most popular tools in this category are Google Stackdriver and Google Cloud Console. Stackdriver is a virtual machine monitoring service that provides you with an abundance of performance and diagnostic data. Cloud Console is a native mobile app that lets you manage your primary Google Cloud services through monitoring, alerts, and more.

From API services, to cost management and administration assistance, to an internal cataloging service that can be shared for collaboration, Google’s management tools will simplify your life and make cloud management a breeze.

Other Google Management Tools include:

  • Stackdriver
  • Monitoring
  • Trace
  • Logging
  • Debugger
  • Cloud Console, and more

Media

GCP also offers media products related to 3D-modeling and video streaming.

Two products offered are Anvato and Zync Render. Anvato offers video streaming solutions to fit different needs, whether you need programming and broadcasting solutions or solutions to produce a live event. This video streaming platform scales without limits and even has real-time reporting on engagement and monetization metrics.

Zync Render combines tools that artists already use with Google’s technical power and global reach of infrastructure. This allows creative teams to focus on their art rather than infrastructure. The shift in focus that Zync provides is the reason it is the rendering solution for over 12 feature films and countless commercials, for a total of more than 50 million core rendering hours.

To reiterate, Google’s Media products are:

  • Anvato
  • Zync Render

Migration

Migration is the process of moving data from one place to another. This can mean cloud migration, data migration, VM migration, etc. You may need to decommission on-premises data centers, exit a cloud, or maybe just migrate a workload. Whatever your migration needs, GCP can do it.

Of all the tools in this category, Transfer Appliance and BigQuery Data Transfer Service are the most impactful. Transfer Appliance is an actual hardware appliance used to migrate data (ranging from hundreds of terabytes to one petabyte) to GCP without troublesome effects on business.

BigQuery Data Transfer Service is a very dependable option for daily data delivery to BigQuery. Scaling is no problem, it’s always up-to-date, and you can even seamlessly schedule migration from SaaS apps to BigQuery.

Other tools in this category include:

  • Cloud Data Transfer
  • Transfer Appliance
  • BigQuery Data Transfer Service
  • Velostrata
  • VM Migration, and more

Networking

Google’s networking services and technologies are expansive and yet simple to use. From network connection and scale to security and optimization, you’re sure to find what you need.

If price is a primary factor, network service tiers allow you to choose optimization of your network for performance or cost. During August of 2017, GCP released its premium tier and standard tier networks, making them the first major provider to offer a tiered cloud network. In fact, according to Peter Bakkum from Quizlet, “Google probably has the best networking technology on the planet.”

Although you really can’t go wrong with any of the products in this category, the Virtual Private Cloud and Cloud Load Balancing tools are perhaps the most popular.

The Virtual Private Cloud is global; it can cross many regions without public communication. It’s also shareable; a single VPC can be used for an entire business. Finally, it’s expandable; you can increase IP space without any downtime. Meanwhile, the Cloud Load Balancing tool lets you scale your applications anytime and disseminate your load-balanced resources.

Networking services and technologies include:

  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
  • Cloud Load Balancing
  • Cloud Armor
  • Cloud CDN
  • Cloud NAT
  • Cloud Interconnect
  • Cloud VPN
  • Cloud DNS
  • Network Service Tiers
  • Network Telemetry

Security

Cloud computing and technology is fairly new territory, but Google has made sure that security is integral to the platform. From functionality of services to the actual protection of your information, security is a priority for GCP. Data is encrypted in transit and at rest, providing security within the infrastructure while also providing app level visibility and security.

Access Transparency and Cloud Data Loss Prevention are two of the more impactful tools in this category, though all tools are important here. Access Transparency is Google’s promise to give you detailed notice in almost real-time when Google Cloud administrators access your content for any reason. You also gain more control of your data, as you can require approval to be given before your Google Cloud data is accessed.

Similarly, Cloud Data Loss Prevention offers more visibility into your data, lets you easily inspect and monitor data, and protects your most sensitive data.

More GCP security tools include:

  • Access Transparency
  • Cloud Identity
  • Cloud Data Loss Prevention
  • Cloud Key Management Service
  • Cloud Security Scanner, and more

Storage

Google Cloud Platform’s cloud storage products offer a range of storage options. Each option is a dependable and secure solution for media, analytics, and other storage needs. Google’s cloud storage product page provides an excellent chart that breaks down storage options, benefits for each, and the types of customers who use them.

Cloud Storage and Persistent Disk are two of the most used storage options. Cloud storage offers reliable object storage and instant access, as well as very low-cost archival storage with quick access speeds. Persistent Disk offers block high performing block storage for virtual machines and containers.

GCP’s storage options include:

  • Cloud Storage
  • Persistent Disk
  • Cloud Filestore, and more

Other Google Cloud Components

Google has an array of other products that are not necessarily a part of the Google Cloud Platform, but are types of SaaS often used in conjunction with it. These services are available through Google’s Cloud, but aren’t part of GCP.

The primary reason that GCP is separated from these other components is because GCP is intended for developers to build and run applications. Some of Google’s other tools that you’ll find listed below are still related to development, but are built to be used independently of one another rather than in conjunction with the cloud platform.

Productivity and Collaboration (G-Suite)
G-Suite includes things like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Hangouts. This combination of tools was created to provide integrated, collaborative tools for businesses of any size.

Mobile and Web Application Development (Firebase)
Firebase is a comprehensive app development platform created to help teams achieve their goals. It offers users functional tools that allow businesses to focus on their users and not get caught up in infrastructure.

Mapping Services for Integration (Google Maps Platform)
In addition to being the preferred map, route, and destination-finding application, Google Maps offers rideshare, gaming, and asset tracking solutions. It’s customizable and can include local context. Maps are even being used to create immersive game environments based on the real world.

Identity Management (Google Cloud Identity)
Cloud Identity was created to help IT and security teams achieve the most efficient system to protect company data and assist the transition to a digital workplace. Its high security and simplicity offer users peace of mind.

Cross-Cloud API Management (Apigee)
Apigee is a full lifecycle API management platform. It lets you operate in a multi- and hybrid-cloud world while providing users with connected experiences, operational efficiency, and actionable intelligence.

Multi-Cloud Billing and Cost Management (Orbitera)
Orbitera is the simple solution to multi-cloud billing. It gives you the power to automate and optimize your billing process, whether you’re a business or a service provider.

How to Use Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform is publicly available on Google, so it’s pretty simple to find and sign up for services. The best way to explore the platform and figure out if it’s right for you is to sign up for a free trial – you’ll also get a $300 credit.

To learn more about GCP’s services, visit the products page where you’ll find detailed descriptions of everything they have to offer.

How Much Does Google Cloud Platform Cost?

The exact amount you’ll pay for GCP depends on what you want to use the platform for. Cloud service providers like Google charge customers for the resources those services consume and use that in combination with complicated algorithms to calculate the ultimate price.

Google Cloud Platform offers some unique benefits when it comes to pricing:

  • It’s a pay-as-you-go service
  • You choose your products a la carte
  • There’s no termination fee
  • Google offers a 60% savings compared to its competitors
  • Google applies additional discounts for certain usage patterns
  • Competitors charge customers on an hourly basis, while Google charges on a per-second basis

If you’d like to get an estimate of what GCP might cost you, check out their pricing calculator.

Google Cloud Platform Certifications

GCP is made to be user-friendly, but there are some Google Cloud Platform certifications that can help you develop a deeper understanding of the platform and boost your career by showcasing your expertise.

Google offers a few different certification courses:

  1. Associate Certification: For new users to build fundamental skills
  2. Professional Certification: Build advanced skills for those already familiar with Google Cloud products
  3. User Certification: For the user to evaluate their experience with G Suite and use of collaboration tools

Explore GCP With A Google Cloud Partner

Google Cloud Platform exists to simplify your life. To experience how helpful these products and services can be, try a free GCP trial. If you’re looking to master GCP and become a more competitive collaborator, check out the certification programs available.

If you want to use Google Cloud Platform to advance your business but you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the options available, Agosto can help. As a Google Cloud Partner, we can help you explore new ideas and push boundaries to improve business. Call to find out more.

Accelerating Cloud Transformation

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Accelerating Cloud Transformation: Trends, Predictions & Case Studies

About the Webinar

Turbocharge your business transformation using cloud platforms in 2019. Public cloud adoption and spending are mainstream and growing at more than 35% per year, but only a small fraction of core business applications run in public or private cloud. In 2019, a major transformation of legacy apps using powerful container-based, cloud-native digital application platforms will take off.

Join the conversation between Rick Erickson, Chief Cloud Strategist at Agosto, Nathan Clevenger, Director Software R&D at Zebra Technologies, and guest speaker Dave Bartoletti, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester. Get their firsthand insights on accelerating your cloud migration strategy to make the highest impact and improve competitive advantage while developing a holistic cloud governance strategy.

Bartoletti, the lead on Forrester’s cloud computing playbook team, will also share the true state of public, private, and multi-cloud adoption, the main enterprises cloud drivers and challenges, his cloud predictions for 2019, and how enterprises should get started right away to accelerate their own digital transformations using cloud platforms and the hottest emerging technologies.

Speakers

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Rick Erickson

Chief Cloud Strategist, Agosto

As Chief Cloud Strategist, Rick is focused on ensuring that Agosto, and its clients, fully understand, select and deploy enterprise cloud solutions when integrating, modernizing, or moving to the cloud. Rick’s expertise is in navigating the complex cloud provider ecosystem to align the features of private & public clouds that solve the challenges of each unique business.
Read more about Rick

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Dave Bartoletti

Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester

Dave Bartoletti has developed, delivered, supported, and marketed game-changing technologies for more than 25 years as a software executive at several high-profile technology and financial services leaders. He was at the forefront of the middleware, web, virtualization, automation, and cloud computing tech disruptions as both vendor and consumer.

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Nathan Clevenger

Director Software R&D at Zebra Technologies

Nathan is Director of Portfolio in the Enterprise Software business unit at Zebra Technologies where he leads the roadmap for the Savanna Data Services Platform. He was previously CTO at iFactr, which was acquired by Zebra in 2015.

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About Agosto

Founded in 2001, Agosto is a cloud services company that helps organizations leverage Google Cloud products in the private and public sectors, providing technical solutions, change management and training, custom development, migration and deployment from legacy systems, ongoing admin support, and product development. Agosto is one of the largest Cloud Platform Partners globally, and was named Google Global Partner of the Year for Cloud in 2013.

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Improving the Customer Experience

AGOSTO WEBINARS

Improving the Customer Experience with GCP at Unilog and TCN (Cloud Next ’18)

In this session, Joe Bennett (Senior Vice President at Unilog), Jesse Bird (CTO and co-founder at TCN) and Rick Erickson (Chief Cloud Strategist at Agosto) will walk through their unique cloud migration and modernization strategies, highlighting: operating challenges and the expected benefit moving to Google’s public cloud; how they progressed from a privately hosted environment to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and their considerations for the future; the path to modernization, improving operating costs and the customer experience; and how the move to GCP ultimately impacted both companies.

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