Google Cloud made two significant pricing announcements today. Those, you’ll surely be sad to hear, don’t involve the usual price drops for compute and storage. Instead, Google Cloud today announced that it is extending its committed-use discounts, which give you a significant discount when you commit to using a certain number of resources for one or three years, to GPUs, Cloud TPU Pods and local SSDs. In return for locking yourself into a long-term plan, you can get discounts of 55% off on-demand prices.
In addition, Google is launching a capacity reservation system for Compute Engine that allows users to reserve resources in a specific zone for later use to ensure that they have guaranteed access to these resources when needed.
At first glance, capacity reservations may seem like a weird concept in the cloud. The promise of cloud computing, after all, is that you can just spin machines up and down at will – and never really have to think about availability.
So why launch a reservation system? “This is ideal for use cases like disaster recovery or peace of mind, so a customer knows that they have some extra resources, but also for retail events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday,” Google senior product manager Manish Dalwadi told me.
These users want to have absolute certainty that when they need the resources, they will be available to them. And while many of us think of the large clouds as having a virtually infinite amount of virtual machines available at any time, some machine types may occasionally only be available in a different availability zone, for example, that is not the same zone as where the rest of your compute resources are.
Users can create or delete reservations at any time and any existing discounts – including sustained use discounts and committed use discounts – will be applied automatically.
As for committed-use discounts, it’s worth noting that Google always took a pretty flexible approach to this. Users don’t have to commit to using a specific machine type for three years, for example. Instead, they commit to using a specific number of CPU cores and memory, for example.
“What we heard from customers was that other commit models are just too inflexible and their utilization rates were very low, like 70, 60% utilization,” Google product director Paul Nash told me. “So one of our design goals with committed-use discounts was to figure out how we could provide something that gives us the capacity planning signal that we need, provides the same amount of discounts that we want to pass on to customers, but do it in a way that customers actually feel like they are getting a great deal and so that they don’t have to hyper-manage these things in order to get the most out of them.”
Both the extended committed-use discounts and the new capacity reservation system for Compute Engine resources are now live in the Google Cloud.