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Google inflates infrastructure cloud

Makes it easier to get on, trims prices

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Google has taken another step toward opening up its Amazon-competitor Google Compute Engine to the general public.

The ad-slinger announced on Thursday that anyone who is paying the company $400 a month for "Gold" support for cloud services can now try out the GCE beta.

"Now you can sign up online for Google Compute Engine with the purchase of Gold Support; you no longer need an invitation or a conversation with sales to get access," Google product manager Navneed Joneja, wrote in a post on Thursday.

Gold support was introduced by Google in February as the company got more serious about serving up enterprise trimmings to go with its enterprise cloud. Google Compute Engine was launched in June 2012 as Google (like Microsoft) stepped down into infrastructure-as-a-service after making a strategic miscalculation and prioritising platform-as-a-service technologies such as Google App Engine, which have so far received less enthusiasm than mainstay IaaS tech such as Amazon's.

Alongside the broadening of access, the company also announced a 4 per cent price cut across all of GCE's rentable instances.

This price cut is paired with additional cloud features such as the ability to attach and detach persistent disks from running instances, a new management console called (predictably) the "Google Cloud Console", and five new families of server to rent including diskless versions of standard instances, along with diskful and diskless versions of high-memory and high-CPU configurations.

European customers have been given access to two more of Google's data center regions, which gives them lower latency options for serving cloudy requests to European consumers.

Taken together, the features help Google's cloud gain more parity with Amazon Web Service's basic offerings, with the persistent storage feature roughly equivalent to Amazon's EBS functionality. But EBS is regularly slammed for its reliability features, so this could be an area where Google can use its infrastructure smarts to sway developers away from Amazon. ®

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