Google Cloud Platform Gets Developer Enhancements

Deeper features for Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Datastore and Google App Engine mean more options for developers.

Google is expanding its developer tools in several of its key cloud products, including Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Datastore and Google App Engine, as the search giant continues to add functions and robustness to the Google Cloud Platform.

The new tools, including Layer 3 load balancing for Google Compute Engine and improvements to the PHP runtime in the latest Google App Engine release, were unveiled in an Aug. 7 post by Greg DeMichillie, a director of product management, on the Google Cloud Platform Blog. The new features were first detailed to developers at May's Google I/O Developers conference and have now reached the release phase.

One of the key additions is the introduction of Layer 3 load balancing capabilities in the Google Compute Engine, to provide "Google-scale throughput and fault tolerance" to manage Internet applications, wrote DeMichillie. "Load balancing is critical in any highly scalable system, allowing you to automatically and intelligently route traffic across a collection of servers."

Using the new load balancing services, developers and administrators can "load-balance ingress network TCP/UDP traffic over a specific set of Compute Engine virtual machines (VMs) within the same region," while ensuring "that only healthy VMs are used to serve Internet requests through the use of HTTP-based health checks." The new tools also allow users to easily handle load spikes without prewarming their systems and to configure the load balancer via command line interface (CLI) and a programmatic RESTful API, he wrote.

"This initial release provides Layer 3 support and we'll continue to expand its capabilities on a regular basis," wrote DeMichillie. The new feature will be provided for free by Google through the end of 2013, and then U.S. usage rates will start at $0.025 per hour for up to five rules, and $0.01 per hour for each additional rule, plus .008 cents per GB processed, according to Google's pricing page.

The new features and productivity enhancements in the Google Cloud Datastore include Google Query Language (GQL) support, wrote DeMichillie. "Being able to search for data lies at the heart of all data-driven applications, and we've made that easier by adding GQL support—a SQL-like language for retrieving entities or keys from Cloud Datastore." Developers can also now access Metadata Queries, which will allow them to retrieve statistics on their underlying data, which is "useful when building your internal administration consoles, performing custom analysis or simply debugging an application."

Also included are numerous enhancements to the command-line tool to make it easier to use for developers, wrote DeMichillie. "Separately, we've also included support for those of you who use Microsoft Windows." Another major addition is new Cloud Datastore support for Ruby developers, he wrote, which will allow developers to spin up Ruby applications that rely on a managed NoSQL datastore. Earlier versions of the Cloud Datastore included code snippets and samples for getting up and running only with Java, Python and Node, he noted.

The other big addition for developers is improvements to the PHP runtime as part of the Google App Engine 1.8.3 release, wrote DeMichillie. "Our integration with Google Cloud Storage for reading and writing files has proven to be popular, so we expanded this in 1.8.3."