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Google adds crowd control tech to infrastructure cloud

Load balancing closes gaps with Amazon and Microsoft

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Google has added load balancing to its infrastructure-as-a-service technology, as the company closes the gap between its cloud and those operated by Amazon and Microsoft.

The update was announced by Google in a post to the Google Cloud Platform blog on Wednesday, alongside enhancements to the company's storage and platform services.

Load balancers allow cloud admins to set up forwarding rules for traffic hitting their applications, letting them absorb peaks and also direct traffic according to pre-set rules. The load balancer can be fiddled with via a command line interface or a programmable RESTful API.

Google now lets admins set policies that check on the health of the targeted server instance, and route traffic elsewhere if it is failing, just as with Amazon and Microsoft.

But both Microsoft and Google are, so far, unable to offer multi-region load balancing, which is available on Amazon via use of the company's Route 53 DNS service. This automatically shifts traffic according to the health of not just individual data centers, but continental compute regions.

Google's technology will be free throughout 2013, after which it will cost $0.025 per hour for five load balancing rules and $0.008 per gigabyte of processed data. Funnily enough, these are exactly the same prices charged by Amazon for its version of the technology.

Microsoft's equivalent – Traffic Manager – is in preview mode and is also free, though we suspect Redmond will apply similar pricing when it chooses to charge.

Besides the load balancer tech, Google has also updates its Datastore with more developer tools, including metadata queries – which lets you access statistics around the data. Developers can now query the datastore with the Google Query Language which is roughly equivalent to SQL though its terms vary.

After introducing PHP to Google App Engine in May, Google has started making its first upgrades to the language's runtime on the platform, and has added support for working with directors in Google Cloud Storage, added in the ability to write metadata to files, and boosted performance via memcache-based read caching. ®

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