The trial will see the introduction of a Standard Tier that will slide in under the legacy connectivity option that is now dubbed Premium Tier.
The Standard Tier will deliver outbound traffic from GCP to the Internet over transit networks instead of using Google’s network. Transit networks are typically used by small Internet service providers (ISPs) to connect to the larger Internet.
Inbound traffic via the Standard Tier into the GCP will travel over a transit network until it reaches the region, or point of presence (POP), where a customer’s GCP destination is located. At that point it will be transferred over Google’s network into the GCP. Traffic destined to travel only within a GCP region will take the Google network throughout the trip.
The Premium Tier will continue to use Google interconnect network regardless of origination or destination. The company’s fiber-based network includes more than 100 POPs around the world and eight subsea cables that help support at least three independent paths between any two locations.
Prajakta Joshi, product manager for cloud networking at Google, explained in a blog post that customers can expect lower network performance and availability from the Standard Tier.
“Since we deliver your outbound and inbound traffic on Google’s network only on the short hop between GCP and the POP closest to it, the performance, availability, and redundancy characteristics of Standard Tier depend on the transit provider(s) carrying your traffic,” Joshi wrote. “Your traffic may experience congestion or outages more frequently relative to Premium Tier, but at a level comparable to other major public clouds.”
What sort of real-world impact can those looking to trim costs expect? Google cited a Cedexis Internet performance monitoring tool that showed Premium Tier throughput speed at 1.7x greater than that of the Standard Tier.
Of course, as with all things reliant on the Internet, your mileage may vary.
Cost savings could be hard to pin down due to various situations. Standard Tier outbound traffic from the GCP to the Internet is priced 24 percent to 33 percent lower for North America and Europe than the Premium Tier.
Inbound pricing is a wash as Google will continue to not charge for that transportation path regardless of tier selected. Those on the Standard Tier will just run the risk of slower speeds and availability.
Premium Tier customers will see outbound pricing change based on source and destination of the traffic. Joshi explained this we due to costs being based on the “distance your traffic travels over Google’s network.”
The tiered approach is set for two rounds of testing, with the new pricing schemes schedule to take effect once the tiers are commercialized. Customers can select either or both options depending on their specific use cases.
Enterprise Strategy Global analyst Dan Conde said Google’s networking reach and control allows the company to diversify its service offerings.
“I think the key thing is that Google has an extensive global network that they control and run on their own,” Conde said. “So given that it provides benefits, they want to give customers choice – get the extra benefits (at a standard price) or if you don’t need all those extras, you can get a break on the price.”
While pricing is likely to factor into tier consideration, Conde said necessary service level agreements (SLAs) will also come into play.
“If you need to use their global backbone – say it’s a big bank – then the choice is theirs via premium. If you want ‘lightweight” usage, then I’d go for a price break with a standard offering,” Conde explained. “So the issue is that not all workloads are alike, so you’d want a network infrastructure that matches that in performance and price. After all, any IT shop has different SLAs for different apps, right?”
As for any potential impact on pricing from other cloud providers, Conde said it was possible, though factors would ultimately decide a course of action.
“It’s not just a price issue since they need to match with the performance, service, and SLAs,” Conde said. “So until they can offer to match that, it won’t be a direct comparison. Of course, for many customers the standard tier may be good enough. In that case, it becomes a price issue.”
Google last month went old-school with an alternative to cloud networking, offering up the ability for users to mail large amounts of on-premise data via a physical box. Customers set up the rackable, high-capacity storage server in their data centers. The appliance holds up to 1-petabyte of compressed data.
As product manager Ben Chong wrote in a GCP blog post, “Sometimes the best way to move data is to ship it on physical media.”
And apparently sometimes it’s best to have different pricing tiers.