Google Pre-emptible VMs Now Generally Available

Pre-emptible VMs are a new option and 70 percent cheaper than traditional VMs, but they can be shut down any time to make way for regular workloads.

Google Pre-emptive VMs and Compute Engine

Google today announced general availability of its Compute Engine Pre-emptible Virtual Machine option for customers of its cloud-computing platform.

The option is designed for enterprises that need extra infrastructure capacity occasionally to run seasonal and batch processing jobs but that do not want to spend money on installing extra hardware capacity up-front.

With the Pre-emptible VM option, Google has said it will make available any idle cloud capacity it might have at a particular time to businesses that want the extra capacity on a temporary basis.

Google's pricing for the Pre-emptible VMs is substantially cheaper than the prices the company charges for its traditional virtual machines. Google has said that, in some cases, enterprises will be able to secure Pre-emptible VMs for up to 70 percent lower than regular prices.

However, the one major caveat is that the Pre-emptible VMs are subject to infrastructure availability and may be shut down at any time for full-price workloads. Google has noted that the option is a good choice for large, non-critical workloads that do not require continuous availability.

"During our beta, many customers, both big and small, have used Pre-emptible VMs to realize savings for themselves," Paul Nash, senior product manager with Google's Compute Engine group, said in the blog post announcing general availability.

One example highlighted in Tuesday's blog post is cancer research organization the Broad Institute. Researchers at the institute wanted to run a complex genome analytics workload involving 30 years worth of cancer research data but did not have the infrastructure internally to run it.

Cycle Computing, a company that helps businesses migrate and orchestrate large workloads in the cloud, worked with the Broad Institute to move the genome analytics project to a 51,200-core cluster of Google's Pre-emptible VMs.

"Pre-emptible VMs offer a tremendous opportunity for users like Broad Institute, because for BigCompute applications that are 'interruption friendly,' we get access to the same Google infrastructure that regular VMs offer," Cycle Computing said in a statement accompanying Google's announcement on Tuesday. According to Cycle Computing, the Pre-emptible VM option gave the Broad Institute access to a petascale-computing infrastructure at roughly the cost of a single server.

Areas that customers have used the Pre-emptible VMs include genomics and pharmaceuticals, rendering, manufacturing design, financial modeling and simulation, and big data analytics, Nash from Google added. "Pre-emptible VMs have also been integrated into a growing number of popular frameworks and libraries, making it easier for users to start saving on their cloud bills as easily as checking a box or adding—pre-emptible in a config file," he claimed.

Google announced beta availability of its pre-emptible VMs in May. At the time, the company also announced a series of price cuts ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent on its Compute Engine hosted cloud platform service. The company described the price cuts as part of its effort to follow Moore's Law and drop prices on cloud infrastructure services in proportion to falling hardware and storage prices.

Google offers a free trial for businesses looking to test its Compute Platform, including its new Pre-emptible VMs.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.