Google recently revealed details of Maglev, its network load balancing technology that gives developers the ability to build infrastructures that can handle a million requests per second, without warning. Maglev leverages Equal-Cost Multi-Path routing technology to disperse incoming network packets across all Maglevs in conjunction with “consistent hashing techniques” that enable the accurate transmission of packets to the “correct service backend servers,” regardless of which Maglev receives a specific packet. Maglev’s use of Equal Cost Multi-Path routing technology differentiates from the common industry practice of using Active Passive load balancer configuration, wherein the secondary, or passive load balancer configuration operates passively and awaits the opportunity to assume responsibility for load balancing as required. Whereas Active Passive load balancer configurations can waste half of their load balancing resources, Maglev’s use of ECMP enables a more deeply engaged utilization of existing resources as noted in Google’s blog post, below:
All Maglevs in a cluster are active, performing useful work. Should one Maglev become unavailable, the other Maglevs can carry the extra traffic. This N+1 redundancy is more cost effective than the active-passive configuration of traditional hardware load balancers, because fewer resources are intentionally sitting idle at all times.
Borg, Google’s cluster management technology, renders it possible to migrate service workloads between different clusters as required. Similarly, Maglev facilitates the addition and removal of load balancing capacity and thereby illustrates the capability of Network Functional Virtualization technology to add and remove load balancing functionality without the addition of new hardware. Google’s deep dive into the workings of Maglev, which runs on commodity Linux servers, illustrates how its technology manages load balancing at scale and facilitates its management both of Google network traffic more generally as well as load balancing within the Google Cloud Platform. Named after the Japanese bullet qua magnetic levitation train, Google’s Maglev technology requires the addition of new Maglevs once a certain threshold has been reached with respect to the use of existing Maglevs for network load balancing purposes.
Unconfirmed reports claim that the Google Cloud Platform has scored Apple as another high profile customer, hot on the heels of its recent success in inking a deal with Spotify as the preferred cloud infrastructure for the popular streaming music service. Sources allege that Apple’s partnership with the Google Cloud Platform allow it to reduce its dependency on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, thereby enabling it to diversify its cloud-based vendor dependencies. Apple and Google have declined to comment. If true, the deal between Apple and the Google Cloud Platform throws into question the purpose of Apple’s massive build of its own datacenters, many of which were believed to be intended to house Apple’s forthcoming, proprietary cloud-based infrastructure. Regardless, the swirl of speculation positioning Apple as a potential customer of the Google Cloud Platform stands to reputationally benefit Google, which now appears poised to follow-through on its promise to aggressively court the enterprise with former VMware CEO Diane Greene at the helm of Google’s cloud business.
This week, Spotify announced plans to transition its core music platform to the Google Cloud Platform from its on premise data center infrastructure. Once complete, Spotify’s migration to the Google Cloud means that over 30 million songs, 75 million users and 2 billion playlists will be hosted on the Google Cloud Platform. Nicholas Harteau, VP of Engineering & Infrastructure at Spotify, elaborated on its decision to choose Google as opposed to other public cloud providers as follows:
What really tipped the scales towards Google for us, however, has been our experience with Google’s data platform and tools. Good infrastructure isn’t just about keeping things up and running, it’s about making all of our teams more efficient and more effective, and Google’s data stack does that for us in spades.
Google has long been a thought-leader in this space, and this shows in the sophistication and quality of its data offerings. From traditional batch processing with Dataproc, to rock-solid event delivery with Pub/Sub to the nearly magical abilities of BigQuery, building on Google’s data infrastructure provides us with a significant advantage where it matters the most.
Here, Harteau remarks on the richness of Google’s data offerings such as BigQuery and Dataproc as key factors in its decision to choose Google, over and beyond considerations related to the provisioning and management of infrastructure. The blog post elaborates how Google’s data offerings and analytics have the potential to make Spotify’s “teams more efficient and more effective” by delivering granular and timely data analytics to enable the company to more deeply understand user behavior and subsequently deliver a richer user experience. Spotify’s decision to choose Google over Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure represents a stunning affirmation of Google’s cloud platform that pointedly illustrates Google’s product differentiation within the public space given its venerable reputation for specializing in analytics on big data of both the streaming and batch varieties. Expect Google to continue foregrounding its data analytics as the cloud wars continue to escalate, particularly as Oracle beefs up its public cloud offerings and Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure similarly enrich their platforms through aggressive product development and strategic acquisitions.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced that Gmail has surpassed 1 billion users per month and that its Google Cloud Platform is used by more than 4 million applications. Pichai also asserted that the Google Cloud Platform “is ready to be used at scale,” and that the company has reached a point where its cloud infrastructure and applications have reached a level of maturity at exactly the time when the broader, industry-wide “movement to cloud has reached a tipping point.” Pichai further noted that Catholic Health Initiatives, one of the nation’s largest non-profit health systems, announced its transition to Google Apps last quarter in what amounts to yet another example of the Google Cloud Platform’s readiness to embrace workloads from large organizations and enterprises. Unlike Microsoft and Amazon, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, failed to break out revenue run rate details about its subsidiary cloud business but the company’s appointment of VMware executive Diane Greene to head Google’s cloud services division in November constitutes ample proof of the company’s interest in building out its cloud business. The question now, however, is when and how Google plans to court the enterprise, which has traditionally been dominated by Microsoft and IBM in the enterprise software and infrastructure space. Without more details of its anticipated strategy for gaining traction for cloud products and services in the enterprise, investors and analysts alike will be hard pressed to understand how Google plans to build cloud market share, particularly given continued impressive revenue growth for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s growing ascendancy in the cloud products and services space under CEO Satya Nadella.
Windows Server has now graduated to general availability as a supported OS on the Google Cloud Platform infrastructure. As a result, Google Cloud Platform now supports Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems in addition to Linux distributions such as CentOS, Debian, RHEL, SUSE and Ubuntu. Recent enhancements to Windows Server OS on GCP include multi queue and generic receive offload support that enhances throughput while reducing the number of Windows Server instances required for a specific web-based application. By achieving general availability status, Windows Server deployments are covered by the Google Compute Engine SLA and stand to receive consultative support regarding architectural design via Google Cloud Platform support packages. The timing of Google’s release of the general availability of Windows Server on Google Cloud Platform coincides with Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando and tacitly recognizes the growing ascendancy of Microsoft’s cloud services and technologies more generally. In a blog post, Google elaborated on its GA of Windows Server as a means of empowering customers to “deploy and operate diverse sets of technologies in mixed Linus and Windows environments,” thereby positioning GCP as an infrastructure suitable for hybrid cloud deployments. Despite the GA of Windows Server, however, Google Cloud Platform has a long way to go toward becoming an enterprise-friendly cloud platform, particularly in comparison to the Azure cloud, for example, whose impressive roster of industry partnerships has rendered it an increasingly attractive option for enterprise customers, particularly in light of its recent partnership with Rackspace.