[caption id="attachment_9010" align="aligncenter" width="618"] Google's updates include the ability to administer Google Cloud Platform services via a single interface.[/caption] Google Compute Engine, the search-engine giant’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, is now available to those who sign up for Google Cloud Platform at a certain level of support. Google Cloud Platform allows people to build applications and analyze data using Google’s infrastructure; marrying that with Google Compute Engine could give companies and developers the ability to build more products. Google unveiled Google Compute Engine at last year’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco. The platform opens access to Google’s internal processing power, allowing users to launch enormous data clusters. “Access to computing resources at this scale can fundamentally change the way you think about tackling a problem,” Craig McLuckie, product manager for Google Compute Engine, wrote in a corporate blog posting at the time. Users can leverage Google Compute Engine to launch Linux virtual machines on demand (with 1,2,4 and 8 virtual-core virtual machines available). Storage options include ephemeral disk, a “simple block device” linked to the lifecycle of the virtual machine, as well as persistent disk, a network-connected storage service that replicates data across multiple physical disks in a Google data center. Users have the ability to connect their virtual machines into a network in order to create clusters, controlling them via scriptable command-line tools or Web UIs (all tools are built on RESTful API, with plans to release tools to open-source). The latest Google Compute Engine update includes the ability to boost from persistent disks mounted as the root file system, as well as persistent-disk snapshots (which give administrators the ability to restore the contents of network-resident persistent disks). Google has also updated its administration console, allowing users to administer Google Cloud Platform services via a single interface. Google has also introduced five additional instance type families, which include 16 new instance types, along with an enhanced metadata server that supports recursive queries, selectable response formats, support for updating virtual machine tags and more. Google also reduced Compute Engine’s prices. The motive behind the new pricing and features seems pretty clear: Google needs to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS), a popular option among IaaS users. Despite Google’s size, it faces a significant challenge in that regard: Amazon, which launched AWS years ahead of many rivals, adds new capabilities and pricing schemes on a regular basis. Meanwhile, other enterprise-cloud rivals are prepping their own offerings.   Image: Google