What is Google Cloud Platform?

Every tech giant seems to have a cloud platform. However, if you asked someone what Google Cloud was, they probably wouldn’t have a clue. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is not a collection of Google’s most popular apps and software. They call it Google Workspace, which used to be G Suite.

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Google Cloud versus Google Workspace

Google Workspace includes things like Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive cloud storage. Google Cloud Platform is a suite of cloud computing services running on the same infrastructure that Google uses for its end-user products. Unlike Google Workspace, which is primarily aimed at individual productivity and collaboration for everyday use, GCP provides tools and services that enable developers and businesses to build, deploy and scale applications, websites and online services using the infrastructure robust and reliable by Google.

Google Cloud Platform includes services for serverless and scalable computing, cloud-based offsite data storage, data analytics, machine learning, networking, Internet of Things (IoT), security tools and developer tools. These services are highly flexible, can grow as a business grows, and are designed to meet the needs of small-scale developers all the way up to big data giants querying terabyte-sized datasets.

While Google Workspace focuses on providing productivity tools for users, Google Cloud Platform is a comprehensive platform that offers loads of services, cloud resources, and the necessary cloud infrastructure for DevOps teams. A handful of competitors offer public cloud services on this scale, and you’ll recognize many of them. Some of GCP’s biggest competitors are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and IBM’s cloud platform.

A brief history of Google Cloud Platform

AWS and Azure logos

Amazon beat Google to market with its cloud computing service in 2006. Google launched a preview version of App Engine in 2008, a tool that allows customers to run their own web applications on Google’s infrastructure. Initially, it was released to a limited number of developers. It didn’t see its full release until 2011.

Since then, Google Cloud Platform has developed or acquired numerous services and products that enable enterprises to utilize all aspects of its vast infrastructure resources. Google Cloud Platform has quickly become one of the leading international cloud service providers, alongside other cloud service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and IBM.

Have you ever wondered how companies can offer their services and products online on such a large scale? It’s because most of them are based on cloud services like those from Google. Some of Google Cloud Platform’s best-known customers include Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, PayPal, Nintendo, and eBay.

Google Cloud offers several notable services

Google Cloud Platform app logos

Google Cloud Platform offers several “engines” or frameworks designed for your computing, hosting, and application development needs. It has many useful APIs that use machine learning and its AI platform to develop AI models. It also has facilities for database work and can handle large datasets.

  • Google Compute Engine is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) product. At a basic level, it allows a customer to run virtual machines (VMs) on Google’s infrastructure to handle their computing workload instead of using internal CPU power. Google has a partnership with VMware that allows customers to run their VMware workloads on GCP infrastructure in a fully managed VMware environment.
  • Google App Engine is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) product with tools and services to build and host web applications on Google’s infrastructure. It was one of the first products on Google Cloud Platform. It supports multiple programming languages, such as Python, Java, PHP and more.
  • Google Kubernetes Engine is an open source system maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and originally developed by Google. It is used to automate the deployment, scaling and management of Docker containerized applications. You can think of a containerized app as a portable application that includes almost everything it needs inside its own container.
  • Google Cloud SDKs is a set of command-line tools and libraries that allow developers to manage and interact with other GCP resources. It is available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
  • Virtual private cloud (VPC) it is used in many services in GCP and provides the foundation for networking, connectivity and communication between services.
  • Google AI Platform has services that help a company develop, launch, and manage Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) and other AI machine learning models.
  • Google Cloud speech, visual, and natural language APIs enable businesses to use Google machine learning to analyze text, convert speech to text, and analyze images. The APIs allow Android developers to leverage these powerful tools in their Android apps.
  • Google Cloud DNS is a stable and reliable Domain Name System (DNS) service that converts domain names, such as androidpolice.com, into the numerical IP addresses that computers use to identify other computers on the network.
  • Google BigQuery is a multi-cloud serverless data warehouse designed to manage and analyze large amounts of data and is built to scale easily. This means that a company does not need its own data centers and does not have to manage its own servers. It is designed to analyze huge datasets in the order of billions of rows in real time.
  • Google CloudSQL is a fully managed relational database service that supports MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQL Server. While Google BigQuery is designed to analyze huge datasets, Google Cloud SQL is an Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) service designed for day-to-day operational database work. Record and store things like user information, app data, and transaction records.
  • Google BigTable is a NoSQL (Not Only SQL) database service designed to handle a diverse number of data models. These BigTable cloud databases are particularly adept at handling large, distributed data sets and flexible enough to adjust to the information stored. They’re typically used for things like user-generated social media content, data recorded by sensors in IoT devices, and personalization features that change based on a user’s past behavior.

This is a short list of what’s available through Google Cloud Platform. GCP also has Google Cloud Storage, Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Dataflow, Cloud Dataproc, Cloud Functions, Cloud Run, Cloud Spanner, Cloud Load Balancing, and a web-based GUI called Cloud Console to manage it all. The Google Cloud platform is huge and this is not a complete list.

GCP includes many managed services, which means that Google takes care of the underlying infrastructure, maintenance and operations necessary to run the service and the hardware used by the service. If you’ve ever run a small home server on a Synology DiskStation NAS, you probably know how much can go wrong with server hardware. This allows customers to focus on developing and running things rather than managing the infrastructure. It also means that a business can benefit from automatic scaling that adjusts resources based on workload demand as their business grows.

The image shows a blue lock icon over a dark keyboard background.

With so many large enterprises moving their analytics, data processing, and machine learning workloads off-premise and into cloud providers like Google Cloud Platform, protecting this data has become a top priority. GCP offers tools for monitoring, logging, and diagnosing security performance.

  • Google Cloud Security Command Center (SCC) is a comprehensive data security and risk platform that customers can use to proactively protect against data leakage, unauthorized access, and other security threats.
  • Google Cloud Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a tool for discovering, classifying and protecting sensitive data. A business can use the tool to scan their systems, figure out where sensitive data is located, and make sure the data is protected. It can be used to anonymize sensitive data and protect against data linking with the original data source. It also includes risk analysis tools, which can help a business better understand its risks and is often used to ensure compliance with regulatory rules or audits.
  • Google Cloud armor protects applications and websites from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Google Cloud Identity and Access Management (IAM) allows administrators to manage access control, identifying who a person or service is, where they may be and what access privileges they have.

Google Cloud Platform doesn’t just offer the tools and services that enable businesses to use its infrastructure. It also provides security and management tools that protect everything a business places on its platform.

Demystifying Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform app logo cluster

Google Cloud Platform and Google Cloud may look like the same thing, but they are very different. Google Cloud is a set of tools and services for users, such as Google Drive and Google Workspace. On the other hand, GCP is the backbone of many large-scale digital platforms, including Google Cloud. That may seem like a lot with all it has to offer, but there are plenty of tutorials and a flexible pricing model for smaller-scale uses.

To put it simply, Google Cloud Platform is Google’s suite of cloud computing services that enable developers and businesses of all sizes to build, launch, and manage their own online applications and services. Some of the largest companies in the world use GCP to access Google’s powerful infrastructure – the same infrastructure that Google uses for its services and products. GCP provides compute engines, an AI platform, machine learning APIs, a stable and reliable DNS service, and database services capable of handling datasets of any size and type.

Google Cloud Platform protects your data

Google Cloud Platform provides all the security and management tools needed to safeguard a company’s data and the sensitive user data it may have collected. Its set of security and monitoring tools helps businesses automate many security tasks, monitor system performance, and manage access privileges.

Google Cloud Platform is more than Google’s version of a cloud computing suite. It’s a complete ecosystem of reliable and powerful services, from advanced processing capabilities to robust and reliable security measures.

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