[caption id="attachment_14758" align="aligncenter" width="618"] A helpful slide diagramming Google's cloud platform.[/caption] Google Compute Engine, the tech titan’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, has hit its general-availability milestone. The platform allows users to leverage Google’s enormous processing power to their own ends. “Access to computing resources at this scale can fundamentally change the way you think about tackling a problem,” Craig McLuckie, product manager for Compute Engine, wrote in a corporate blog posting when the project was first announced last year. Google first made Compute Engine available in preview at this year’s I/O conference in San Francisco, complete with features such as sub-hour billing, shared-core instances for low-intensity workloads, advanced routing for anyone who needed to create gateways and VPN serves, and large persistent disks (capable of supporting up to 10 terabytes per volume). With general availability, Google has introduced some additional features. During the preview phase, Compute Engine supported Debian and Centros (two Linux distributions) customized with a kernel built in-house by Google. “This gave developers a familiar environment to build on, but some software that required specific kernels or loadable modules (e.g. some file systems) were not supported,” read a Dec. 2 note on the Google Cloud Platform Blog. With the general-availability version, on the other hand, “you can run any out-of-the-box Linux distribution (including SELinux and CoreOS) as well as any kernel or software you like, including Docker, FOG, xfs and aufs.” On top of that, Google has announced Compute Engine support for SUSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (in limited preview), and FreeBSD. There are three new instance types, including one with 16 cores and 104 gigabytes of RAM (available in standard, high-memory and high-CPU options). In a bid to make its IaaS offering more competitive with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google has slashed the prices for standard instances (by 10 percent, in all regions) and Persistent Disks. But the company still faces a tough road if it wants to make Compute Engine a hit: Amazon launched AWS years ahead of its rivals, and adds new capabilities and pricing schemes on a regular basis. In order to succeed, Google doesn’t just need to convince potential customers that they require massive computing power in order to better operate their business (within many businesses, that need is already recognized)—it must poach customers who’ve already invested significant amounts of money and data in a deeply entrenched rival.   Image: Google