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Google Slashes Prices On Preemptible Instances

Preemptible VMs have proven popular among customers with flexible, but resource-intensive, workloads, and now they're getting less expensive.

Google lowered prices Tuesday for the Preemptible VM instances it first introduced to customers last year, making it less expensive to take advantage of Google Cloud Platform for executing the kind of batch computing jobs common to media companies and data analysts.

New prices, already in effect, depend on the specific Preemptible instance types, some of which were reduced by one-third of their previous cost, said Google Product Manager Michael Basilyan in the Google Cloud Platform blog.

The internet giant based in Mountain View, Calif., a subsidiary of Alphabet, was partly able to discount the product because of improvements it has made in operating the innovative instances that take advantage of nonpeak hours to run CPU-intensive, but time-flexible, workloads.

[Related: Google Acquires Orbitera, Pledges 'Support For The Multi-Cloud World']

"Since launching Preemptible VMs last year, we’ve tuned our algorithms, improved their efficiency and analyzed usage patterns," Basilyan said in the blog post. "Our experience, combined with the growth of Google Cloud Platform, allows us to offer deeper discounts."

Preemptible instances are sometimes 80 percent less expensive than their standard cloud counterparts because they offer no guaranteed availability. Google can shut a Preemptible down at any time if it needs the computing capacity for other workloads, and the instances never run uninterrupted for longer than a full day.

Google says that kind of flexibility allows for greater efficiency in sharing data center resources.

Customers executing large computing jobs don't typically care if they get round-the-cloud access to the scaled computing infrastructure they need, especially if they can cut by more than half their spend on those projects.

Simon Margolis, director of cloud platform at SADA Systems, a Los Angeles-based Google partner, said Preemptibles have become a popular choice for certain industries, and the price cuts should attract new customers to Google's cloud.

"We see many clients in the media and entertainment space, as well as the big data analytics space, who already use Preemptible VMs to save costs on huge clusters of instances," Margolis said.

"Since these clusters are processing huge amounts of data such as rendering frames and data transformation, the cost savings become significant and help differentiate [Google Cloud Platform]," Margolis said.

Mat Elis, CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Cloudability, which develops financial tools for metering cloud spends, told CRN he thinks Google's motivation to make Preemptibles less expensive is to be more competitive with spot instances offered by Amazon Web Services.

"Most folks who use spot instances are price-conscious," Elis said. Google "may feel by cutting the price they may attract folks who are already studying the cost per unit of work."

Amazon's spot instances allow users to bid on spare cloud capacity.

"We believe that the price reduction for Preemptible VMs will unlock even more computing opportunities and enable you to tackle interesting science and business problems," said Basilyan in the blog.

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