Cloud infrastructure-as-a-service solutions provide server networks for cloud computing needs, including hosting databases and application data. Here at Cloudwards.net, we’re mostly interested in IaaS as an endpoint for backup clients like CloudBerry Backup, Duplicati and Arq.
In this Google Cloud review, we’ll evaluate one of the bigger names in the IaaS industry and a perfect pairing for any of those clients, not to mention choose-your-own storage file-sync-and-share solution Storage Made Easy (read our Storage Made Easy review).
There’s little question that Google Cloud deserves mention among the best cloud IaaS providers available, though we’d contend that it doesn’t quite top the charts. It may not be as appealing as Amazon S3 or Azure, but Google Cloud boasts a global network, robust security and several types of storage depending on your needs, including its archival buckets.
Below, we’ll detail all the ins and outs, highs and lows, touching on the costs, network, user experience, security and support that come with Google’s cloud infrastructure offering. If Google Cloud appeals, you can try the service out with a 12-month, $300-credit free trial to gauge it for yourself.
Alternatives for Google Cloud
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Global server network
- Strong security
- Hot & cold storage
- Expensive storage rates
- Expensive download rates
- Expensive support
Among IaaS providers, costs for Google Cloud are among the most expensive. They’re more per gigabyte than both Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3, though considerably less than the overpriced Rackspace Cloud Files.
Rates include both storage and usage costs billed monthly. There are no minimum storage requirements, and there’s no ceiling, so you can use Google Cloud to host as many or as few files as needed.
There are four types of storage available for Google Cloud and rates will depend on which one you choose. The options are multi-regional and regional hot storage, nearline storage and coldline storage.
Pick hot storage if you intend to access your files frequently. Storage rates are higher but there’s no minimum storage duration and usage rates are reasonable. For less frequent access, such as for backup, nearline or coldline storage will save you money, as long as you keep your files stored for at least 30 days for nearline and 90 days for coldline.
We’ll take a closer look at the rates, but if you’d like a more accurate estimate based on your location and needs, Google provides a calculator to estimate costs.
Storage rates for Google Cloud hot storage aren’t discounted the more you store, a departure from both Amazon S3 and Azure. Base rates, for multi-regional buckets at least, are also high.
|Google Cloud Storage Rates per GB per Month||Multi-Regional (hot storage):||Regional (hot storage):||Nearline:||Coldline:|
|Rate:||$0.026||$0.02 - $0.035 per GB/month||$0.01 - $0.02 per GB/month||$0.007 - $0.014 per GB/month|
At 2.6 cents per gigabyte for multi-regional storage, it runs about one-third cent more than Amazon and four-fifths cent more than Azure. To save, consider regional storage. Unless you’re building a file-hosting system for end users around the globe, choosing it won’t affect performance.
The rates for regional storage are more favorable, though they range from 2 cents per gigabyte to 3.5 cents. Most regions we looked at were 2 or 2.3 cents per gigabyte.
For backup needs, the lowest Google Cloud coldline storage rate, seven-tenths cent, runs higher per gigabyte than Amazon Glacier by about one-fifth cent per gigabyte. Keep in mind that you’re charged for at least 30 days for files kept in nearline and 90 days for those in coldline storage.
Google breaks usage rates for its IaaS platform into class A, class B and egress.
For those looking to build a cloud repository to pair with Storage Made Easy, CloudBerry Backup or a similar service, you only need to worry about egress, which is a term for file downloading. Unfortunately, those egress charges aren’t cheap.
Note that the table below summarizes egress rates for multi-regional storage and most regional storage options. Because regional rates can vary, you’ll want to double-check them with Google depending on where you intend to stash your files.
|Multi-Regional & Regional Egress Rates per GB||Egress Worldwide (excluding Asia and Australia:||Egress Asia (excluding China but including Hong Kong):||Egress China (excluding Hong Kong):||Egress Australia:|
Google discounts multi-regional and regional rates for those that download files often, but 12 cents is about as much as any IaaS service charges. Some, such as budget-friendly Wasabi (read our Wasabi review), don’t charge for file downloads.
Google maintains a network of server facilities spread around the globe that form the bones of its cloud infrastructure service. All told, there are 15 data-center locations with more on the way. That puts Google Cloud on part with Amazon S3, though well behind Microsoft Azure, which has over 50 data centers.
Among the locations are several in the United States, including Oregon, Iowa, Northern Virginia and South Carolina. There’s another North American facility in Montreal, and on in South America, located in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
There are four centers in Europe, located in London, Belgium, the Netherlands and Frankfort, with more on the way. There are no servers in the Middle East or Africa, but six in the Asia-Pacific region: Mumbai, Taiwan, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney.
Ease of Use
Google provides a web-based console to manage your Google Cloud account. The console can be used for more than setting up containers to hold files, including building databases, app engines, computing engines and designing big data processes. That can make using Google Cloud a little tricky at first if you’re only looking to use it for file storage.
You can cut out the noise by clicking on the “storage” link, found about a third of the way down the left-hand pane, beneath the “storage” subheader. A click will redirect you to a new page where you can create and manage storage buckets with relative ease.
Buckets are discrete containers for object storage that make it easier to organize files. While you can connect multiple third-party apps to a single bucket, it’s best to create separate buckets for each.
Click “create bucket” and fill out the fields in the window that opens. You’ll need to give your bucket a unique name, choose a storage type and pick a storage location.
You can also add labels to make sorting buckets easier, and either choose to let Google manage your encryption keys or manage them yourself. Click “create” when you’re satisfied and your bucket will be ready to host files.
While you can upload individual files to Google Cloud through the cloud console, it’s more efficient to use a third-party app. We recommend some simple solutions in our best file-transfer client guide. You can also turn Google Drive into a network drive using a tool such as Mountain Duck or something more sophisticated such as CloudBerry Backup (read our CloudBerry Backup review).
No matter what client you use, you’ll need to connect it to your Google Cloud bucket. This can be done using an API key or an authentication token, like OAuth, if the app supports it.
The advantage of OAuth is that it identifies the individual making the connection and your API key won’t need to be stored anywhere. OAuth connections are also much easier to use since they don’t require retrieving an API key from the developer portal.
If you do need an API key, you can retrieve it using the “credentials” tab of the “APIs and services” page linked in the Google Cloud control console.
You may need to record your API key somewhere, since it’s only generated once and not stored anywhere for security purposes. That key will be required when setting up connections to Google Cloud from within our third-party app.
Ultimately, there’s nothing concerning about the Google Cloud user experience. While there’s a learning curve, that’s unavoidable thanks to the complexity of the services provided. If simplicity is what you’re after, you might want to look at Backblaze B2, a cloud IaaS platform with fewer features (not to mention a much lower cost).
The use of OAuth to connect to Google Cloud endpoints, including buckets, gives Google a security advantage over many of its cloud IaaS rivals, which require API keys. Google Cloud has a nice security profile, much more so than the company’s personal cloud storage solution, Google Drive (read our Google Drive review).
Google Cloud splits data into chunks and each chunk gets encrypted at rest using either 128-bit or 256-bit encryption. Data encryption keys are themselves encrypted using Google Key Management Service.
While Google manages keys by default, for added security you can choose to oversee them yourself using Google KMS. This service lets you quickly rotate and destroy keys, in addition to managing key permissions and auditing key usage.
Google lets you enable two-factor authentication as a means of protecting your accounts against password theft. Weak passwords are much easier to crack than encryption keys, and a common vulnerability for businesses. With 2FA enabled, an additional security code will be required to log in to your Google Cloud account from an unfamiliar machine.
You can receive this code by text message or use Google Authenticator, a mobile app, if you prefer. You can also use a security key, which is a piece of hardware that plugs into your computer’s USB port.
To ensure data center integrity, like most cloud services, Google secures its facilities against trespassing and virtual attacks. Measures include biometric scanners, closed-circuit TV surveillance, guard patrols and perimeter fencing. The company published a full security whitepaper, if you’d like to learn more.
Technical support for Google Cloud isn’t free, but that’s not unusual among IaaS providers. You can get free direct support for billing and sales issues, but that’s about it.
The lowest level of technical support is pricier than the competition’s, substantially so. Silver support will set you back $150 a month, five times what similar support from Amazon and Microsoft costs.
Silver support only nets you business-hour support, too, and only by email. For 24/7 and telephone support, you’ll need to upgrade to the gold plan, which starts at $400 per month.
For those who don’t mind helping themselves, Google does have a free support center where you can access detailed documentation, tutorials and community forums.
While Google has some of the most active community forums in technology, for budget-limited business users that need fast, direct support, Google’s bloated support plans are a reason to consider other IaaS options.
The cloud IaaS market has exploded and, without question, Google Cloud ranks as one of the top options thanks to great features, strong security and multiple server options. We don’t like it as much as Microsoft Azure, our selection for best IaaS, and Amazon S3 has more users by far.
However, for those in need of a strong file-hosting solution, you could do much worse. Chime in with your thoughts on Google Cloud below.
For those interested in CloudBerry Backup or other backup options, our best online backup guide is a good place to start. Thanks for reading.