4 Ways to Get Google Cloud Credits

4 Ways to Get Google Cloud Credits

Google Cloud credits are an incentive offered by Google that help you get started on Google’s Cloud Platform for free. Like Amazon and Microsoft, Google is trying to make it easy and in some cases free to get started using their Cloud Platform or certain services on their platform that they believe are “sticky” –  which is beneficial if you’d like to try the services out for personal use or for a proof-of-concept. There is both a spend and a time limit for Google’s free credits, but then they also offer “always free” products that do not count against the free credit and can be used forever, or until Google decides to pull the plug, with usage limits. 

1. Google Cloud Free Tier

The most basic way to use Google Cloud products is the Google Cloud Free Tier. This extended free trial gives you access to free cloud resources so you can learn about Google Cloud services by trying them on your own. 

The Google Cloud Free Tier has two parts:

  • A 12-month free trial with a $300 credit to use with any Google Cloud services.
  • Always Free, which provides limited access to many common Google Cloud resources, free of charge.

12-Month Free Trial

The Google Cloud 12-month free trial and $300 credit is for new customers/trialers. Be sure to check through the full list of eligibility requirements on Google’s website. (No cryptomining – sorry!)

Before you start spinning up machines, be sure to note the following limitations:

  • You can’t have more than 8 cores (or virtual CPUs) running at the same time.
  • You can’t add GPUs to your VM instances.
  • You can’t request a quota increase. 
  • You can’t create VM instances that are based on Windows Server images.

Your free trial ends when 12 months have elapsed since you signed up and/or you have spent your $300 in Google Cloud credit. When you use resources covered by Always Free during your free trial period, those resources are not charged against your free trial credit.

At the end of the Free Trial you either begin paying or you lose your services and data, it’s pretty black and white, and you can upgrade at any time during your Free Trial with any remaining credits being applied against your bill.

Google Cloud Always Free

The Always Free program is essentially the “next step” of free usage after a trial. These offerings provide limited access to many Google Cloud resources. The resources are usually provided at monthly intervals, and they are not credits — they do not accumulate or roll over from one interval to the next, it’s use it or lose it. The Always Free is a regular part of your Google Cloud account, unlike the Free Trial.

Not all Google Cloud services offer resources as part of Always Free program. For a full list of the services and usage limits please see here – a few of the more popular services include Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, Cloud Functions, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Big Query and more. Be sure to check the usage limits before spinning up resources, as usage above the Always Free tier will be billed at standard rates.

2. Google Cloud for Startups

Google is motivated to get startups to build their infrastructure on Google Cloud while they’re still early stage, to gain long-term customers. If you work for an early-stage startup, reach out to your accelerator, incubator, or VC about Google Cloud credit. You can get up too $100,000 in credit – but it will come at the price of a large percentage of equity.

Options that don’t require you to give up equity include Founder Friendly Labs, StartX if you happen. 

3. Education Offerings

Google offers several options for students, teachers, and researchers to get up and running with Google Cloud.

  • GCP Credits for Learning – Faculty can apply for $100 in credits and $50 per student. This offering is intended for students who are learning GCP for career purposes.
  • Research credits – Research faculty can apply for $5,000 in credits for Google Cloud resources to support academic research, or $1,000 for PhD candidates. The research can be in any field. Learn more here.

There are also several offerings related to making education accessible without associated credits. See more on the Google Cloud Education page.

4. Vendor Promotions and Events

Various vendors that are Google Cloud partners run occasional promotions, typically in the form of a credit greater than $300 for the Google Cloud Free Trial, although we’ve also seen straight credits offered. For example, CloudFlare offers a credit program for app developers.

Also check out events that might offer credit – for example, TechStars startup weekends offers $3,000 in Google Cloud credits for attendees. Smaller awards of a few hundred dollars can be found through meetups and other events. 

Google Cloud Credits do offer people and companies a way to get started quickly, and the Always Free program is a unique way to entice users to try different services at no cost, albeit in a limited way. Be sure to check out the limitations before you get started, and have fun!

Further reading:

 

Tips for Better Cloud Expense Management

Tips for Better Cloud Expense Management

The term “cloud expense management” has been co-opted by many parties, from those selling employee expense management software hosted in the cloud, to telecom expense management software (TEM), to IT expense management software, to cloud cost management software which focuses on SaaS, IaaS, and/or PaaS services. For the purpose of today’s blog we will slant towards cloud management software and specifically key in on infrastructure, IaaS and PaaS offered as public cloud services.

One of the greatest benefits of cloud computing is supposed to be cost efficiency, but there is a flip side to the agility gained by using public cloud computing. Costs can easily get out of control if your cloud services are not effectively provisioned or properly governed and managed. Most organizations have not yet fully migrated all their applications to the cloud. Because of this hybrid cloud structure, public cloud services can become an added cost to their overall budget, making understanding, planning and managing these cloud services extremely important. That is where cloud expense management software comes into play, it really needs to be part of your overall cloud management strategy from day one.

Cloud Computing Services

Before we discuss further how to manage cloud expenses, let’s take a look at the different cloud service types in more detail to get a picture of the expenses there are to manage. Remember there are literally hundreds of IaaS and PaaS services offered in the public cloud — as of this blog writing AWS alone has 190+ cloud services.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is a category that offers traditional IT services like compute, database, storage, network, load balancers, firewalls, etc. on demand and off premise – vendors like AWS, Azure and Google dominate this market.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app – AWS, Azure and Google offer PaaS along with IBM, Oracle, and RedHat to name a few.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” – vendors who dominate this space include Salesforce, ServiceNow, Microsoft and SAP (and ParkMyCloud) to name a few.

Enterprise expenses in these categories are skyrocketing as outlined in our cloud waste blog, along with the difficulties of administering an effective cloud expense management for a single cloud, let alone a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment in order to protect a company’s bottom line. Companies now require visibility and insights into their cloud-based services, and automated controls and actions to remediate and manage those cloud service expenses.

Where does Cloud Expense Management fit?

As mentioned, cloud expense management should be a key element in your overall cloud management strategy. Enterprises need a clear strategy here and generally tools fit into the following categories — please note functionality can be both natively provided by the cloud service provider or via a third-party:

  • Provisioning and orchestration: create, modify, and delete resources as well as orchestrate workflows and management of workloads
  • Automation: Enable cloud consumption and deployment of app services via infrastructure-as-code and other DevOps concepts
  • Security and compliance: manage role-based access of cloud services and enforce security configurations
  • Service request: collect and fulfill requests from users to access and deploy cloud resources
  • Monitoring and logging: collect performance and availability metrics as well as automate incident management and log aggregation
  • Inventory and classification: discover and maintain pre-existing brownfield cloud resources plus monitor and manage changes
  • Cost management and optimization: track and rightsize cloud spend and align capacity and performance to actual demand
  • Migration, backup, and DR: enable data protection, disaster recovery, and data mobility via snapshots and/or data replication

We believe cloud expense management is a subcategory of Cloud Cost Management and Optimization. Tools in this category generally help enterprises with:

  • Cost visibility, reporting, budgeting and chargeback
  • Buy and manage Reserved Instances (RI’s) and Savings Plans
  • Leverage usage data in real-time to make recommendations and take actions on idle, under or overprovisioned, or orphaned cloud resources
  • Create an action plan to optimize future cloud costs and avoid budget surprises

Why is Cloud Expense Management Important?

Simply put, the cloud is a utility and it needs to be managed as such – cloud costs need to be reported and allocated, cloud services need to be optimized, and in order to reap the benefits of cloud these cost control actions needed to be automated.  Whether cloud expense management is your full-time, or “when-you-have-time” responsibility, it is important to build it into your cloud management strategy from day one. It will take time but what you get in return is increased optimization and validation of your cloud services and costs, ensuring you maximize your ROI. 

What are AWS Scheduled Reserved Instances and do they save money?

What are AWS Scheduled Reserved Instances and do they save money?

A few years ago, AWS announced the release of their Scheduled Reserved Instances. These reserved instances are designed for workloads that recur on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, and are purchased for a one-year term. AWS says that Scheduled Reserved Instances provide a 5-10% savings over On-Demand instances used for this same purpose.

While we always appreciate ways to save on AWS, there are a few reasons that Scheduled Reserved Instances are unlikely to make a useful addition to your toolbox when compared to other cost-savings options available.

First of all, they have a decidedly limited use case, only for predictably scheduled operations that will go on for at least one year. Many companies would need to see a much higher savings rate than 10% with this year-long commitment when looking at AWS on demand vs reserved.

Secondly, they are inflexible. Once you set a schedule, you cannot change or override it, and the options to set schedules are limited to daily, weekly, or monthly recurrence on a set duration. Since one of the main benefits of cloud is the ultra-flexibility you get on short notice, this might be a deal-breaker by itself.

Additionally, as Beth Pariseau pointed in a TechTarget article, additional management overhead is required to manage every additional type of instance that a company leverages.

Note that Scheduled Reserved Instances are also limited by region – only available in US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Ireland) regions – and by instance type, currently supporting C3, C4, M4, and R3 instance types.  This means that modern versions of those EC2 instance families, like M5, M5a, M5n, M6g, C5, or C5n, are not available for scheduling, so you’re using an older version of those EC2 instance types. While this might not matter much now, the list of usable instance types has not been updating along with the on-demand instance types, which means this problem will only get worse with time.

When compared to standard AWS reserved instance pricing, you’re not really getting the savings you’d expect from this kind of commitment.  Reserved Instances typically save 30% for a convertible 1-year purchase, and can be about 60% for a standard 3-year purchase. This means that if you have an EC2 instance you need that would match the scheduled reserved instance but are using that same EC2 size for other workloads throughout the month, then the non-scheduled EC2 reserved instance pricing works much better with more savings.

For your recurring workloads, you can run instances only when you need them but maintain flexibility by using ParkMyCloud to schedule on/off times for On-Demand instances.  By keeping workloads on just during business hours, you’ll save 65% using ParkMyCloud, with even more savings achievable if you need that instance even less throughout the month (and doesn’t even account for savings achieved through RightSizing).  This beats any AWS RI pricing while maintaining flexibility for your organization.  Keep this in mind while you are evaluating your reserved instance vs on demand decisions.

See the chart below for a full comparison of using Scheduled Reserved Instances vs. using ParkMyCloud.

This comparison shows that AWS Scheduled Reserved Instances are unlikely to be worth any effort or investigation by your cloud operations team.  ParkMyCloud provides more benefits and much higher savings with more flexibility and less commitment. Even standard AWS EC2 Reserved Instance pricing and savings can give you more bang for your buck.

If you’ve got workloads and servers that don’t need to run very frequently throughout the month, but you need to ensure they can be spun up at a moment’s notice, then ParkMyCloud can help you save money and enable your users for maximum cloud efficiency. Give ParkMyCloud a try for yourself – start seeing savings today.

Google Cloud Platform vs AWS: Is the answer obvious? Maybe not.

Google Cloud Platform vs AWS: Is the answer obvious? Maybe not.

Google Cloud Platform vs AWS: what’s the deal? A while back, we also asked the same question about Azure vs AWS. After the release of the latest earnings reports a few weeks ago from AWS, Azure, and GCP, it’s clear that Microsoft is continuing to see growth, Amazon is maintaining a steady lead, and Google is stepping in. Now that Google Cloud Platform has solidly secured a spot among the “big three” cloud providers, we think it’s time to take a closer look and see how the underdog matches up to the rest of the competition. 

Is Google Cloud catching up to AWS?

As they’ve been known to do, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all released their recent quarterly earnings around the same time the same day. At first glance, the headlines tell it all:

The obvious conclusion is that AWS continues to dominate in the cloud war. With all major cloud providers reporting earnings around the same time, we have an ideal opportunity to examine the numbers and determine if there’s more to the story. Here’s what the quarterly earning reports tell us:

  • AWS had the slowest growth they have ever since they began separating their cloud reportings – up just 37% from last year.
  • Microsoft Azure reported a revenue growth rate of 59%.
    • Microsoft doesn’t break out specific revenue amounts for Azure, but Microsoft did report that its “Intelligent Cloud” business revenue increased 27% to $10.8 billion, with revenue from server products and cloud services increasing 30%
  • Google’s revenue has cloud sales lumped together with hardware and revenue from the Google Play app store, summing up to a total of $6.43 billion for the last quarter. 
    • To compare, last year during Q3 their revenue was at $4.64 billion.
  • During their second-quarter conference call in July, Google said their cloud is on an $8 billion revenue run rate – meaning cloud sales have doubled in less than 18 months.

 

You can see here that while Google is the smallest out of the “big three” providers, they have shown the most growth – from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019, Google Cloud has seen growth of 83%. While they still have a ways to go before surpassing AWS and Microsoft, they are moving quickly in the right direction as Canalys reported they were the fasted growing cloud-infrastructure vendor in the last year. 

It’s also important to note that Google is just getting started. Also making headlines was an increase in new hires, adding 6,450 in the last quarter, and most of them going to positions in their cloud sector. Google’s headcount now stands at over 114,000 employees in total.

The Obvious: Google is not surpassing AWS

When it comes to Google Cloud Platform vs AWS, we have a clear winner. Amazon continues to have the advantage as the biggest and most successful cloud provider in the market. While AWS is growing at a smaller rate now than both Google Cloud and Azure, Amazon still holds the largest market share of all three. AWS is the clear competitor to beat as they are the first and most successful cloud provider to date, with the widest range of services, and a strong familiarity among developers.

The Less Obvious: Google is actually gaining more ground

While it’s easy to write off Google Cloud Platform, AWS is not untouchable. AWS has already solidified itself in the cloud market, but with the new features and partnerships, Google Cloud is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. 

Where is Google actually gaining ground?

We know that AWS is at the forefront of cloud providers today, but that doesn’t mean Google Cloud is very far behind. AWS is now just one of the three major cloud providers – with two more (IBM and Alibaba) gaining more popularity as well. Google Cloud Platform has more in store for its cloud business in 2020. 

A big step for google was announced earlier this year at Google Cloud’s conference – Google Cloud Next – the CEO of Google Cloud announced that they would be coming out with a retail platform to directly compete with Amazon, called Google Cloud for Retail. What ‘s different about their product? For starters, they are partnering with companies such as Kohl’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Shopify, etc. – these retailers are known for being direct competition with Amazon. In addition to that, this will be the first time that Google Cloud has had an AI product that is designed to address a business process for a specific vertical. Google doesn’t appear to be stopping at just retail – Thomas Kurian said they are planning to build capabilities to assist companies in specialized industries, ex: healthcare, manufacturing, media, and more. 

Google’s stock continues to rise. With nearly 6,450 new hires added to the headcount, a vast majority of them being cloud-related jobs, it’s clear that Google is serious about expanding its role in the cloud market. In April of this year, Google reported that 103,459 now work there. Google CFO Ruth Porat said, “Cloud has continued to be the primary driver of headcount.” 

Google Cloud’s new CEO, Thomas Kurian, understands that Google is lagging behind the other two cloud giants, and plans to close that gap in the next two years by growing sales headcount. 

Deals have been made with major retailer Kohl’s department store, and payments processor giant, PayPal. Google CEO Sundar Pichai lists the cloud platform as one of the top three priorities for the company, confirming that they will continue expanding their cloud sales headcount. 

In the past few months, Pichai added his thoughts on why he believes the Google Cloud Platform is on a set path for strong growth. He credits their success to customer confidence in Google’s impressive technology and a leader in machine learning, naming the company’s open-source software TensorFlow as a prime example. Another key component to growth is strategic partnerships, such as the deal with Cisco that is driving co-innovation in the cloud with both products benefiting from each other’s features, as well as teaming up with VMware and Pivotal. 

Driving Google’s growth is also the fact that the cloud market itself is growing so rapidly. The move to the cloud has prompted large enterprises to use multiple cloud providers in building their applications. Companies such as Home Depot Inc. and Target Corp. rely on different cloud vendors to manage their multi-cloud environments. 

Home Depot, in particular, uses both Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and a spokesman for the home improvement retailer explains why that was intentional: “Our philosophy here is to be cloud-agnostic, as much as we can.” this philosophy goes to show that as long as there is more than one major cloud provider in the mix, enterprises will continue trying, comparing, and adopting more than one cloud at a time – making way for Google Cloud to gain more ground.

Multi-cloud environments have become increasingly popular because companies enjoy the advantage of the cloud’s global reach, scalability, and flexibility. Google Cloud has been the most avid supporter of multi-cloud out of the three major providers. Earlier this year at Google Cloud Next, they announced the launch of Anthos, a new managed service offering for hybrid and multi-cloud environments to give enterprises operational consistency. They do this by running quickly on any existing hardware, leverage open APIs and give developers the freedom to modernize. There’s also Google Cloud Composer, which is a fully managed workflow orchestration service built on Apache Airflow that allows users to monitor, schedule and manage workflows across hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Google Cloud Platform vs. AWS – Why Does It Matter?

Google Cloud Platform vs AWS is only one of the battles to consider in the ongoing cloud war. The truth is, market performance is only one factor in choosing the best cloud provider. As we always say, the specific needs of your business are what will ultimately drive your decision. 

What we do know: the public cloud market is not just growing – it’s booming. Referring back to our Azure vs AWS comparison – the basic questions still remain the same when it comes to choosing the best cloud provider: 

  • Are the public cloud offerings to new customers easily comprehensible?
  • What is the pricing structure and how much do the products cost?
  • Are there adequate customer support and growth options?
  • Are there useful management tools?
  • Will our DevOps processes translate to these offerings?
  • Can the PaaS offerings speed time-to-value and simplify things sufficiently, to drive stickiness?

Right now AWS is certainly in the lead among major cloud providers, but for how long? We will continue to track and compare cloud providers as earnings are reported, offers are increased, and price options grow and change. To be continued in 2020…

How Cloud has affected the Centralization vs Decentralization of IT

How Cloud has affected the Centralization vs Decentralization of IT

Every week, we find ourselves having a conversation about cost optimization with a wide variety of enterprises. In larger companies, we often talk to folks in the business unit that most people traditionally refer to as Information Technology (IT). These meetings usually include discussions about the centralization vs decentralization of IT and oftentimes they don’t realize it, as we are discussing cloud and how it’s built, run and managed in the organization. 

Enterprises traditionally organized their IT team as a single department under the leadership of the CIO. The IT team works across organizational departments and supports the enterprise to meet various tooling and project needs requested by other business units or the executive team.  Although there are significant efficiencies from this type of approach, there are some risks that can affect the entire organization, in particular, one that seems to stem from the ‘need for speed’ (agility). The LOB depends on IT to deliver services, hardware, software, and other ‘tools’, but this is not always done quickly and efficiently, mostly due to internal processes.

Benefits of Centralized IT Structures

The benefits of this type of organizational structure were often associated with increased purchasing power, improved information flow between IT team members, skilled hiring efficiencies, and a watchful view of the enterprise’s technical infrastructure from both an operational network and security perspective. Let’s dig into these in a bit more detail.  

  • Lowered expenses and increased purchasing power – the centralized environment will always provide a business with more buying power at a lower cost by combining all of the needs of the business into a centralized buying pool.
  • Improved productivity for IT staff – IT teams are like any other team, they thrive with collaboration and mutual understanding and respect for each other’s skillsets. It also makes installations and technical resolution(s) easier as you’re addressing a centralized resource.
  • Enterprise-wide information dissemination – the centralized organization will build its network from the center out – LOBs will typically share the same networked resources – such as an ERP or CRM. This avoids the dangers of siloed information that could be critical to another LOB, but without access, there’s no visibility into the information that is available.

Despite the benefits stated above, a centralized team has several limitations and challenges – one of those challenges with the greatest enterprise-wide exposure is how best to prioritize project requests from each of the LOBs – enter decentralization and cloud — IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

Decentralization is a type of organizational structure in which daily operations and decision-making responsibilities are delegated by top management to middle and lower-level managers and their respective business units. This frees up top management to focus more on major decisions. For a small business, growth may create the need to decentralize to continue efficient operations. Decentralization offers several advantages and is a practical approach when different departments or business units in a company have different IT needs and strategies.

Benefits of Decentralized IT Structures

  • The ability to tailor IT selection and configuration. When individual departments have IT decision-making power, they can choose and configure IT resources based on their own specific needs. For example, each department has its own servers optimized to run its required applications.
  • More fail-safes and organizational redundancy. Decentralizing makes servers and applications more resilient—and it can do the same for IT networks, too. If each department maintains its own server, one can function as a backup server in case another server fails. (Of course, this type of redundancy would need to be properly configured in advance.)
  • Respond faster to new IT trends. Since departments in decentralized organizations can make independent decisions, it’s easier for them to take advantage of new technology in the cloud.

One drawback of decentralized IT structures is that this model often leads to information silos – collections of data and information that cannot be easily shared across departments. Centralized IT structures help prevent these silos, leading to better knowledge-sharing and cooperation between departments. For example, using one centrally managed CRM system makes it possible for any employee in a company to access customer information from anywhere — think SalesForce.

The Reality is Hybrid IT

As we see above and in real life, there are many reasons an organization might be tempted to move toward or away from a centralized IT organizational structure but in practice many companies practice a hybrid model – some IT systems like your CRM and ChatOps are centralized, while others like your Cloud Provider and Orchestration tool may be decentralized (buy business unit). The top reasons for this hybrid model that come to mind are technical agility and the availability of tools through SaaS, IaaS and PaaS providers – IT no longer needs to build every solution and tool for you. And decentralized IT organizational structures are typically best for companies that rely on technical agility to remain competitive. These include newer, smaller companies (e.g., startups), and organizations that need to respond quickly to new IT developments (e.g., software and hardware companies or app developers). And, for larger companies that want to bring that mentality and model to their business, here is a great example, Capital One, a bank wanting to be a technology company. 

What are your thoughts on the centralization vs decentralization of IT?