New: Schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases with ParkMyCloud

New: Schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases with ParkMyCloud

The latest release of ParkMyCloud includes the ability to schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases, among other updates to help you save more money through cloud automation.

Save with Google Cloud SQL Parking

First up, ParkMyCloud can now park Google Cloud SQL Databases! This means you can automate start/stop on a schedule, so your databases used for development, testing, and other non-production purposes are only running when you actually need them – and you only pay for the hours you need. The average schedule in ParkMyCloud is OFF 65% of the time, which means 65% savings – that’s a lot of money.

You can also use ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to create rules that automatically assign your SQL databases to parking schedules and to teams, so they’re only accessible to the users who need them.

Google Cloud SQL databases are just the latest in the growing list of types of cloud resources you can park, which also includes Google VM instances, Google Managed Instance groups, AWS EC2 instances, AWS auto scaling groups, AWS RDS instances, Azure VMs, Azure Scale Sets, and Alibaba Cloud ECS instances.

So why now? A growing number of ParkMyCloud users base their infrastructure in Google Cloud – in fact, GCP users are our fastest-growing segment of users. We’ll continue to add ways to optimize your environment no matter what clouds you use, of course, but expect more GCP features to come. We’ve focused on databases in this release because databases are the biggest area of cloud spend after compute, accounting for about 15-20% of an average enterprise’s bill.

What Else is New in ParkMyCloud?

Users will enjoy a few other recent additions to the ParkMyCloud platform:

  • Automatically accept SmartParking recommendations – fully automate your resource optimization by using ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to automatically apply schedules (previously, these had to be manually applied). There are several settings you can tweak to suit your needs – more in the release notes.
  • Chat integrations – we most recently added chat integration for Google Hangouts and MS Teams, joining our existing Slack integration. You can receive notifications and perform override commands and more through your chat window
  • Join the ParkMyCloud User Community on Slack – feel free to join even if you’re not yet a customer!

How to Get Started

If you’re new to ParkMyCloud, you can get started with a free trial. After the full-featured 14-day trial, you can choose to subscribe to a premium plan, or use the free tier – visit our pricing page for more information.

If you already use ParkMyCloud, you’ll need to enable ParkMyCloud to discover and manage your Google Cloud SQL databases. Find the details about the updated limited access role permissions in our user guide. Two things to note: first, you’ll need to be subscribed to the Standard or Enterprise tier in order to access this feature.

As always, we welcome your feedback about this new addition to ParkMyCloud, and any features you’d like to see in the future – comment below or shoot us a note. Cheers!

 

5 Free Google Cloud Training Resources

5 Free Google Cloud Training Resources

If you’re looking to break into the cloud computing space, there’s an abundance of resources out there, including free Google Cloud training. If you know where to look, open source learning is a great way to get familiar with different cloud service providers. Combined with our previous blog posts on free training resources for AWS and Azure, you’ll be well on your way to expanding your cloud expertise and finding your own niche. No matter where you are in the learning process, there’s a training resource for every experience level and learning type – get started now with our list of 5 free Google Cloud training resources:  

1. Google Cloud Free Tier

For free, hands-on training there’s no better place to start than with Google Cloud Platform itself. GCP’s free tier option is a no-brainer thanks to its offerings:

  • Access to all GCP products. You’ll have everything you need to experiment with building and running apps, sites, and services. Firebase and the Google Maps API are included.
  • $300 credit is yours to spend for the next 12 months, an expansion from their previous 60-day period and a sizable offer in comparison to Azure’s $200 for 30 days, so take advantage.
  • No autocharges after the trial period ends – a rarity for most free trials, and a guarantee that this training resource is 100% free.
  • An always-free option. GCP’s free tier takes the cake with this an always-free tier that gives you enough power to run a small app despite limitations on product and usage, a perfect option for learning purposes.

And for help with navigating the platform as you use it, check out GCP’s documentation for a full overview, comparisons, tutorials, and more.

2. Coursera

On the Google Cloud training page, you’ll find plenty of classes to get technical skills and learn best practices for using the platform. Among those options, they have also teamed up with Coursera, an online learning platform founded by Stanford professors, to offer courses online so you can “skill up from anywhere.”

Coursera includes a number of free courses, and until 1/1/19, you can sign up and get your first month free on any select Google Cloud Specialization. Courses include topics in Machine Learning, Architecting, Data Engineering, Developing Applications, and the list goes on.  

3. Qwiklabs

In conjunction with Coursera, Google Cloud offers hands-on training with specialized labs available via Qwiklabs, a learning lab environment for developers. Choose a “quest” from their catalog to get started with 50+ hands-on labs from beginner to expert level, where you’ll learn new skills in a GCP environment and earn cloud badges along the way. Get started with GCP Essentials and work your way into more advanced, niche topics like Managing Cloud Infrastructure with Terraform, Machine Learning APIs, IoT in Google Cloud, and so on.

4. YouTube

You can’t go wrong with YouTube. An endless amount of free videos offers an abundance of Google Cloud training for those of you who prefer to watch the movie instead of reading the book (you know who you are). Some of the most popular YouTube channels for free Google Cloud training include:

  • Google Cloud Platform (243k subscribers) – “helping you build what’s next with secure infrastructure, developer tools, APIs, data analytics and machine learning.”
  • Simplilearn (164k subscribers) – one of the world’s leading certification training providers, with online training that includes Machine Learning, AWS, DevOps, Big Data, and Google Cloud Platform, among others. The course on Introduction To Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals Certification is a popular one with upwards of 99k views.
  • Edureka (537k subscribers) is a full-service, online learning platform with curated content in Big Data and Hadoop, DevOps, Blockchain, AI, Data Science, AWS, Google Cloud, and more. Their YouTube channel is a “gateway to high-quality videos, webinars, sample classes and lectures from industry practitioners and influencers.” If you’re jumping into GCP with no prior knowledge or experience, the What is Google Cloud Platform tutorial will get you started.

5. Blogs & Forums

While other resources keep you learning with hands-on training, tutorials, and certification prep, blogs keep your mind flowing with new insights, ideas, and the latest on all things cloud computing. Google Cloud and Qwiklab have blogs of their own, perfect for supplemented reading with their trainings. But for a more well-rounded blog with content on other service providers, check out Cloud Academy. We also cover Google Cloud on the ParkMyCloud blog – check out this guide to Google Cloud machine types, an explanation of sustained use discounts, and introduction to resource-based pricing. And be sure to subscribe to relevant discussion forums such as r/googlecloud on Reddit and the GCP Slack.

Take Advantage of These Free Google Cloud Training Resources

As it becomes clear that cloud computing is here to stay, free training resources only continue to emerge. We picked the 5 above for their reliability, variety, quality, and range of information. Whether you’re new to Google Cloud or consider yourself an expert, these resources will expand your knowledge and keep you up to date with what’s latest in the platform.

More Free Training Resources:

3 Ways To Use Google Cloud Cron for Automation

3 Ways To Use Google Cloud Cron for Automation

If you use DevOps processes, automation and orchestration are king — which is why the Google Cloud cron service can be a great tool for managing your Google Compute Engine instances via Google App Engine code. This kind of automation can often involve multiple Google Cloud services, which is great for learning about them or running scheduled tasks that might need to touch multiple instances.  Here are a few ideas on how to use the Google Cloud cron service:

1. Automated Snapshots

Since Google Compute Engine lets you take incremental snapshots of the attached disks, you can use the Google App Engine cron to take these snapshots on a daily or weekly basis. This lets you go back in time on any of your compute instances if you mess something up or have some systems fail. If you use Google’s Pub/Sub service, you can have the snapshots take place on all instances that are subscribed to that topic.

As a bonus, you can use a similar idea to manage old snapshots and deleting things you don’t need anymore. For example, schedule a Google Cloud cron to clean up snapshots three months after a server is decommissioned, or to migrate those snapshots to long-term storage.

2. Autoscaling a Kubernetes Cluster

With Google on the forefront of Kubernetes development, many GCP users make heavy use of GKE, the managed Kubernetes service. In order to save some money and make sure your containers aren’t running when they aren’t needed, you could set up a cron job to run at 5:00 p.m. each weekday to scale down your Kubernetes cluster to a size of 0. For maximum cost savings, you can just leave it off until you need it, then manually spin up the cluster, or you could use a second cron to spin you clusters up at 8:00 a.m. so it’s ready for the day.

(By the way — we’re working on functionality to let you do this automatically in ParkMyCloud, just like you can for VMs. Interested? Let us know & we’ll notify you on release.)

3. Send Weekly Reports

Is your boss hounding you for updates? Does your team need to know the status of the service? Is your finance group wondering how your GCP costs are trending for this week? Automate these reports using the Google Cloud cron service! You can gather the info needed and post these reports to a Pub/Sub topic, send them out directly, or display it on your internal dashboard or charting tool for mass consumption. These reports can be for various metrics or services, including Google Compute, Cloud SQL, or your billing information for your various projects.

Other Google Cloud Cron Ideas? Think Outside The Box!

Got any other ideas or existing uses to use the Google Cloud cron service to automate your Google Cloud environment? Let us know how you’re using it and why it helps you manage your cloud infrastructure.

3 Things to Expect from the Google Cloud Summit DC

3 Things to Expect from the Google Cloud Summit DC

Google Cloud is hosting summits all over the world, but the Google Cloud Summit DC is a particularly interesting one. The location in the nation’s capital brings together a mix of government contractors, a growing community of technology startups and innovators, and everything in between.

Plus, it’s just up the road from the data center capital of the world – did you know that 70% of the world’s web traffic flows through ParkMyCloud’s home county of Loudoun, Virginia? Google Cloud opened a data center here in 2017, and has offices in downtown DC and in Reston, VA, giving them a more established presence here than in some other Summit locations.

Here are 3 things you can expect from the Google Cloud Summit DC on October 30th:

1. Public Sector Discussion

Each of Google Cloud’s Summits has content paths tailored to local industries, so it’s no surprise that the Washington, DC edition will highlight government considerations – with security tied into the track as well. Sessions include Security Considerations when Migrating; Cloud Regulatory Compliance; and a Public Sector Roadmap panel.

An interesting wrinkle is that Google just announced that it will not submit a bid for the U.S. Department of Defense’s JEDI cloud computing project, citing their AI principles regarding weapons. In the statement, Google said “Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies, because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload.”

2. Sessions on Roles and Teams

Google aims to make their summits enticing for people in technical and leadership roles alike, which is why you’ll see sessions on the agenda like “Welcome to the Age of the Cloud Worker” or “Getting ahead of digital transformation: how leaders can build a cloud-first workplace”. Expect discussion of the ways cloud computing impacts hiring and organizational strategy, with roles including Google’s own invention of site reliability engineering.

3. A Focus on AI and Machine Learning

At Google Cloud Next in June, 16 major announcements were made around AI and machine learning. As Google seeks to share knowledge and spread adoption among users, they will focus on tools like Kubeflow, which automates deployments of machine learning workflows to Kubernetes, and various AutoML products that let developers with limited machine learning experience start leveraging machine learning models.

Summit sessions include an Intro to Cloud AI Platform for Data Scientists, Easy Ways to Start Automating Intelligence, and Building the Right Foundation for Competitive Advantage Customers.

 

If you’re coming to the Google Cloud Summit DC, let us know! We’d love to get a coffee or a drink.

Google Hangouts & Microsoft Teams Integrations for Cloud Server Monitoring

New in ParkMyCloud: we’ve released integrations with chat clients Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams to make cloud server monitoring easier and integrated into your day. Now, ParkMyCloud users can get notifications when their resources are about to turn on or off, when a user overrides a schedule, and more.

We created these integrations based on popular demand! ParkMyCloud has had a Slack integration since last summer. Now, we’re encountering more and more teams that set themselves up as pure Google or pure Microsoft shops, hence the need. If your team only uses Google tools – Google Cloud Platform for cloud, Google OAuth for SSO, and Google Hangouts for chat — you can use ParkMyCloud with all of these. Same with Microsoft: ParkMyCloud integrates with Microsoft Azure, ADFS, and Microsoft Teams.  

ParkMyCloud notifications in Google Hangouts – note the “view resource” link will take you straight to the resource in ParkMyCloud

Here’s what actions ParkMyCloud admins can get notified on through a chat client for better cloud server monitoring:

  • Resource Shutdown Warning – Provides a 15-minute warning before an instance is scheduled to be parked due to a schedule or expiring schedule override.
  • User Actions – These are actions performed by users in ParkMyCloud such as manual resource state toggles, attachment or detachment of schedules, credential updates, etc.
  • Parking Actions – These are actions specifically related to parking such as automatic starting or stopping of resources based on defined parking schedules.
  • Policy Actions – These are actions specifically related to configured policies in ParkMyCloud such as automatic schedule attachments based on a set rule.
  • System Errors – These are errors occurring within the system itself such as discovery errors, parking errors, invalid credential permissions, etc.
  • System Maintenance and Updates – These are the notifications provided via the banner at the top of the dashboard.

There are a few ways these can be useful. If you’re an IT administrator and you see your users toggling resource states frequently, the notifications may help you determine the best parking schedule for the users’ needs.

Or let’s say you’re a developer deep in a project and you get a notification that your instance is about to be shut down — but you still need that instance while you finish your work. Right in your Microsoft Teams window, you can send an override command to ParkMyCloud to keep the instance running for a couple more hours.

ParkMyCloud notifications in Microsoft Teams

These integrations give ParkMyCloud users a better perspective into cloud server monitoring, right in the same workspaces they’re using every day. Feedback? Comment below or shoot us an email – we are happy to hear from you!

P.S. We also just created a user community on Slack! Feel free to join here for cloud cost, automation, and DevOps discussions.

Cloud User Management Comparison: AWS vs. Azure vs. GCP vs. Alibaba Cloud

Cloud User Management Comparison: AWS vs. Azure vs. GCP vs. Alibaba Cloud

When companies move from on-prem workloads to the cloud, common concerns arise around costs, security, and cloud user management. Each cloud provider handles user permissions in a slightly different way, with varying terminology and roles available to assign to each of your end users. Let’s explore a few of the differences in users and roles within Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Alibaba Cloud.

AWS IAM Users and Roles

AWS captures all user and role management within IAM, which stands for “Identity and Access Management”. Through IAM, you can manage your users and roles, along with all the permissions and visibility those users and service accounts have within your AWS account. There are a couple different IAM entities:

  • Users – used when an actual human will be logging in
  • Roles – used when service accounts or scripts will be interacting with resources

Both users and roles can have IAM policies attached, which give specific permissions to operate or view any of the other AWS services.

Azure RBAC

Azure utilizes the RBAC system within Resource Manager for user permissions, which stands for “Role Based Access Control”. Granting access to Azure resources starts with creating a Security Principal, which can be one of 3 types:

  • User – a person who exists in Azure Active Directory
  • Group – a collection of users in Azure Active Directory
  • Service Principal – an application or service that needs to access a resource

Each Security Principal can be assigned a Role Definition, which is a collection of permissions that they can utilize to view or access resources in Azure. There are a few built-in Role Definitions, such as Owner, Contributor, Reader, and User Access Administrator, but you can also create custom role definitions as well depending on your cloud user management needs.  Roles may be assigned on a subscription by subscription basis.

Google Cloud Platform IAM

Google Cloud Platform also uses the term IAM for their user permissions. The general workflow is to grant each “identity” a role that applies to each resource within a project. An identity can be any of the following:

  • Google account – any user with an email that is associated with a Google account
  • Service account – an application that logs in through the Google Cloud API
  • Google group – a collection of Google accounts and service accounts
  • G Suite domain – all Google accounts under a domain in G Suite
  • Cloud Identity domain – all Google accounts in a non-G-Suite organization

Roles in Google Cloud IAM are a collection of permissions. There are some primitive roles (Owner, Editor, and Viewer), some predefined roles, and the ability to create custom roles with specific permissions through an IAM policy.

Alibaba Cloud RAM

Alibaba Cloud has a service called RAM (Resource Access Management) for managing user identities. These identities work in slightly different ways than the other cloud service providers, though they have similar names:

  • RAM-User – a single real identity, usually a person but can also be a service account
  • RAM-Role – a virtual identity that can be assigned to multiple real identities

RAM users and roles can have one or more authorization policies attached to them, which in turn can each have multiple permissions in each policy. These permissions then work similarly to other CSPs, where a User or Role can have access to view or act upon a given resource.

Cloud User Management – Principles to Follow, No Matter the Provider

As you can see, each cloud service provider has a way to enable users to access the resources they need in a limited scope, though each method is slightly different. Your organization will need to come up with the policies and roles you want your users to have, which is a balancing act between allowing users to do their jobs and not letting them break the bank (or your infrastructure). The good news is that you will certainly have the tools available to provide granular access control for your cloud user management, regardless of the cloud (or clouds) you’re using.