Google Cloud Platform is a leading global cloud computing service provided by Google. From business-critical digital infrastructures to artificial intelligence and machine learning, compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking and developers tools, the GCP portfolio is broad, comprehensive, secure and known for being on the cutting edge of innovation.

Users from any part of the world can access the Google Cloud Platform no matter where they are, as long as they have an internet connection. GCP also offers features and solutions for edge computing and private clouds or on-premises data centers.

What is the difference between Google Cloud and Google Cloud Platform?

While Google Cloud and Google Cloud Platform are often used interchangeably, experts agree that there is a subtle difference between the two.

Google Cloud is a broad term usually used to refer to all of Google’s cloud computing services. This includes GCP and those that are associated with Google products that are ready to use and available worldwide, such as Google Workspace and Google Maps Platform.

On the other hand, Google Cloud Platform is mostly used in the industry to describe the suite of cloud computing services available for end users and companies who want to build their own digital cloud infrastructures. It is interesting to note that products like YouTube, Gmail and the generative AI Google chatbot Bard also run on GCP.

What is Google Cloud Platform used for?

Google uses Google Cloud Platform to leverage its own global digital infrastructure to run all of the services it provides to users, including Gmail and Google Search. Additionally, GCP is used by millions of companies and users around the world, ranging from large corporations to startups and independent developers.

Specifically, Google Cloud Platform is used by businesses of all sizes to build, deploy and manage applications in the cloud, including:

  • Web hosting: GCP provides a variety of services for hosting web applications, including virtual machines, containers and load balancers.
  • Retailers: Retailers use GCP to power their e-commerce platforms, personalize the shopping experience and gain insights from customer data.
  • Industries of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Manufacturers, energy, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and other industries that are part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution use the GCP to optimize their supply chains, create digital twins, manage robotics and industrial IoT, improve product quality, predict demand and avoid disruptions.
  • Financial services: From capital markets to banking, blockchain, neo-banks and insurance, GCP drives business outcomes, hosts financial systems, helps companies comply with regulations, prevents fraud and is used to develop new products and services.
  • Healthcare: GCP allows healthcare providers to safely store and analyze patient data, drive remote health, enhance research and development, and improve patient diagnosis, treatment and care.
  • Media and entertainment: Media and entertainment companies use GCP to create and distribute content, manage digital rights and engage with audiences.
  • Government: Government agencies use GCP to provide citizen services, improve infrastructure and enhance security.
  • Education: Academic institutions use GCP to deliver online courses, conduct research and manage student data.
  • Non-profit: Non-profit organizations use GCP to raise funds, manage volunteers and deliver services to their communities.
  • Software developers: DevSecOps teams use the GCP to reduce software and hardware costs, develop, test and launch applications, software and application programming interfaces in secure, isolated environments that can easily scale up and down when needed.

Google Cloud Platform pricing

Anyone can start using Google Cloud Platform for free. GCP gives customers $300 in free credits to run, test and deploy workloads. All customers can use 20+ products for free with monthly usage limits.

For when free credits run out, Google offers GCP workloads under a pay-as-you-go model with no up-front fees and no termination charges. There are a wide range of features and products available with the Google Cloud Platform. The price of each depends on the product itself and its usage. Customers can access the official full list of GCP products for more detailed information.

Key features of Google Cloud Platform

Google’s strength lies in computing power, big data processing tools and innovation. Data privacy and security features are mature in Google Cloud Platform as well. By popular demand, Google offers managed instances of open-source software from partners including MongoDB, Confluent, DataStax, Elastic, InfluxData, Neo4j and Redis Labs.

Google also has a strong serverless computing infrastructure offering, eliminating a previous gap between it and Amazon’s AWS Lambda. Google Cloud Platform’s serverless solutions cover a variety of areas, including app development, analytics, workflow creation and more.

Google Cloud Platform products

The following is a table of Google Cloud Platform products divided by categories. Note that GCP is constantly innovating, and new products and features are released regularly.

AI and MLVertex AI products for data scientists, AutoML, Natural Language AI, Dialogflox, Media Translation, Recommendations AI, Speech-to-text, Text-to-speech, Translation AI, Video AI, Vision AI
API managementAPI Gateway, Apigee API Platform, Apigee Healthcare APIx, Apigee Open Banking APIx, Application Integration, Cloud Endpoints, Developer Portal
ComputeBare Metal, Compute Engine, Migrate to Virtual Machines, Preemptible VMs, Recommender, SQL Server on Google Cloud, VMware Engine
ContainersArtifact Registry, Container Registry, Google Kubernetes Engine
Data analyticsBigQuery, Cloud Composer, Cloud Data Fusion, Data Catalog, Dataflow, Dataplex, Dataprep, Dataproc, Earth Engine, Looker, Pub/Sub
DatabasesCloud Bigtable, Cloud Spanner, Cloud SQL, Database Migration Service, Firebase Realtime Database, Firestore, Memorystore
Developer toolsCloud Build, Cloud Code, Cloud Scheduler, Cloud SDK, Cloud Source Repositories, Cloud Tasks, Cloud Workstations, Google Cloud Deploy, Tools for Eclipse, Tools for PowerShell
Healthcare and life sciencesCloud Healthcare API, Cloud Life Sciences API
Hybrid and multicloudAnthos
Internet of ThingsIoT Core
Management toolsCarbon Footprint, Cloud Console, Cloud Development Manager, Cloud Shell, Cost Management, Service Catalog
Media and gamingLive Stream API, OpenCue, Transcoder API, Video Stitcher API
MigrationBigQuery Data Transfer Service, Storage Transfer Service, Transfer Appliance
NetworkingCloud Armor, Cloud CDN, Cloud DNS, Cloud IDS, Cloud Load Balancing, Clout NAT, Hybrid connectivity, Network Intelligence Center, Network Service Tiers, Network Telemetry, Service Directory, Traffic Director, Virtual Private Cloud
OperationsCloud Logging, Cloud Monitoring, Cloud Profiler, Cloud Trace, Kubernetes Engine Monitoring
Security and identityAccess Transparency, Assured Workloads, Binary Authorization, Cloud Asset Inventory, Sensitive Data Protection, Cloud Key Management, Confidential Computing, Security Command Center, Secret Manager, Shielded VMs, VPC Service Controls
Identity and accessBeyondCorp Enterprise, Cloud Identity, Context-Aware Access, Identity and Access Management, Identity-Aware Proxy, Identity Platform, Managed Service for Microsoft Active Directory, Resource Manager, Titan Security Key
User protection servicesreCAPTCHA Enterprise, Web Risk
Serverless computingApp Engine, Cloud Functions, Cloud Run, Workflows
StorageCloud Storage, Cloud Storage for Firebase, Filestore, Local SSD, Persistent Disk, Back and DR
Web3Blockchain Node Engine

Pros of Google Cloud Platform

  • Google brand trust and value: GCP is managed by Google, a known and trusted brand in the market that offers reliable, safe and innovative products.
  • Speed and reliability: Google is constantly investing to upgrade its hardware and software and creating new data centers around the world to ensure Google Cloud Platform’s speed and performance.
  • Access to the latest innovation: Google remains highly competitive when it comes to new technologies. The company rapidly integrates and incorporates the latest innovations of value, including AI, ML, generative AI, large language models and small LLMs.
  • Rich in features: GCP offers numerous services and turnkey solutions, tested and ready to deploy, including anti-fraud, product suggestion, data and analytics, machine learning technology and translations.
  • Cost-effective: While the price of GCP varies from user to user, depending on what they are deploying and operating, Google offers one of the most cost-effective cloud computing services in the market.
  • Security and compliance: Cybersecurity, privacy, compliance and governance are key foundations of GCP to help companies build and maintain robust security postures.

Cons of Google Cloud Platform

  • Technical barriers: Deploying digital infrastructures in any cloud computing environment requires skilled talent. GCP is no different; it is technically complex to operate at advanced levels.
  • Connectivity dependent: While users can leverage GCP features to build edge and on-premises infrastructure, most GCP resources are available only through the internet, meaning areas where the internet is not reliable or secure will experience downtime, disruptions and potential risks.
  • Market share: GCP is constantly competing with AWS, Alibaba, IBM, Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft and other cloud computing vendors. This competitive landscape can create an overabundance of features, confusing users on which provider is the best fit for their business.
  • Pricing complexities: Like all cloud computing providers, the pay-as-you-go model, while attractive, can be challenging to understand.
  • Vendor lock-in: Vendor lock-in risks exist when working with GCP. Users may find it difficult to integrate systems and solutions and migrate applications and virtual machines and other digital resources.

Google Cloud Platform’s place in the cloud storage market

For several years, the Google Cloud Platform portfolio, services, infrastructure and services have been positioned in third place when it comes to global market share.

The top global market share cloud computing providers are Amazon Web Services with approximately 30%, followed by Microsoft Azure Cloud with approximately 22% of the market and Google Cloud Platform with about 11% of the global market share. Other GCP rivals include Alibaba, IBM, Oracle and VMware.

SEE: Discover how Google Cloud compares to AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Is Google Cloud Platform right for my business?

Since Google Cloud Platform is a publicly available product, it’s not difficult to acquire its services. The bigger issue is twofold: Deciding whether or not the platform is the best option for your business and planning your migration.

As your organization begins to plan its deployment, start by making a list of questions you have about the service and checking them against the FAQ section on the Google Cloud Platform website. To understand the specifics of a GCP deployment, make sure you familiarize yourself with the proper documentation.

SEE: Explore these tips and tricks for securing data during a cloud migration.

Remember that being digital should not be an outcome by itself. Make sure your cloud migration and digital transformation are aligned with your business outcomes. Ask yourself first what you want to accomplish and what your business goals are first.

For example, if you are interested in becoming customer-centric, data-driven and want to break silos, look into the GCP features that will help your organization meet those targets.

Google does offer free credits for organizations that may need to dip their toes in the water. Whether you are leading a startup or working for a large corporation, Google Cloud Platform offers a wide range of features for industry-specific use cases, excellent support, state-of-the-art technology and robust cybersecurity, compliance and privacy.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

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This is your go-to resource for the latest news and tips on the following topics and more, XaaS, AWS, Microsoft Azure, DevOps, virtualization, the hybrid cloud, and cloud security. Delivered Mondays and Wednesdays