Unique Proposition: Cloud Price Wars Rage, But The Real Battle Is For Differentiation

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Microsoft also offers live migration, but Amazon doesn't. VMware was first to introduce live migration way back in 2003, so Google was likely aiming to show enterprises that its cloud supports this key feature.

Another advantage is that Google has a number of technologies that turn the infrastructure discussion into one centered on a platform mind-set, Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems, a Los Angeles-based cloud provider and Google partner, told CRN.

This includes things such as Prediction APIs, Translation APIs and Big Query, Safoian said. Andromeda, the code name for Google's network virtualization technology, which began rolling out in two of the vendor's four regions in the U.S. and Europe earlier this month, is another example.

"It's hard for anyone to truly match Google's scale when it comes to cloud infrastructure because that's Google's core business, and has been for over a decade," Safoian told CRN.

Another differentiator for Mountain, Calif.-based Google is network speed. Google bought up a bunch of "dark fiber" from telecommunications companies a decade ago and now uses it to provide ultra-speedy network connections between its data centers. Since dark fiber capacity is no longer available, this is a key advantage that Google -- and Microsoft, which also bought up lots of dark fiber -- enjoy over AWS, Randy Bias, CEO of Cloudscaling, said in a blog post in February.

And Google is getting creative with pricing models. Not only does Google charge for its Compute Engine Infrastructure-as-a-Service on a per-minute basis, it now also has "sustained-use discounts." Under this new model, when a customer uses a virtual machine on Google's cloud for more than 25 percent of a month, the price they pay starts dropping. And the longer the VM runs, the bigger the discount gets.

"We want to reward you automatically for sustained usage without preplanning. We're moving the burden of planning from you to us," Urs Holzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google, said at a company event in late March.

One Google drawback is that it is currently only running in four regions worldwide -- two in Europe and two in the U.S. Windows virtual machine support is still in beta. But Google is definitely looking to make cloud the second main pillar of its business, and while it's taken a while for it to get into the game, its vast expertise suggests it'll be able to quickly get up to speed.

NEXT: Microsoft's Azure Cloud: Ace In The Hole For Mobility?

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