Google Introduces Low Cost Preemptible VMs for Quick Cloud Jobs

by Ostatic Staff - May. 19, 2015

When most people look to a cloud service provider to get a job done, they are thinking big, but some cloud tasks are smaller than others. Thats the thinking behind the Google Compute Engine Preemptible Virtual Machine.

It's a brand new computing service on Google Cloud Platform that costs 70 percent less (in terms of average costs) than a comparable instance on the same configuration with Google Compute Engine. Here are more details.

Google Senior Product Manager Paul Nash thinks there is potentially a big market for smaller cloud tasks. He writes in a post:

"Many developers are going beyond web services and are leveraging the cloud’s scalability and pay-as-you-go nature for other compute-intensive workloads. They’re accomplishing tasks such as video encoding, rendering for visual effects, and crunching huge amounts of information for data analytics, simulation, and genomics. These use cases are a great match for cloud computing, as they consume a large volume of compute resources but typically only run on a periodic basis."

"Today we are introducing Google Compute Engine Preemptible Virtual Machines, in beta for all customers in all regions. Preemptible VMs are the same as regular instances except for one key difference - they may be shut down at any time. While that may sound disruptive, it actually makes them a great choice for distributed, fault-tolerant workloads that do not require continuous availability of any single instance. By not guaranteeing indefinite uptime, we are able to offer them at a substantial discount to normal instances. Preemptible VM pricing is fixed. You will always get low cost and financial predictability, without taking the risk of gambling on variable market pricing. The savings begin with your first minute of usage, with prices as low as $0.01 per core hour."

Google itself is using the service. Google's Chrome security team runs their Clusterfuzz tool to perform non-stop randomized security testing in the cloud against the latest code in Chrome running on thousands of virtual machines. Having more compute power means they can find (and then fix) security bugs faster. Using Preemptible VMs, they claim they doubled their scale while decreasing their costs.

"Creating a Preemptible VM works with our current tools," the Google post adds, "it’s as easy as checking a box in the Google Developer Console, or adding “--preemptible” to the gcloud command line. When Preemptible VMs are terminated, they'll receive a 30 second notice allowing you to shutdown cleanly (including saving work, if applicable)."