Google Compute Engine, Container Engine, Cloud Dataproc, and App Engine's flexible environment virtual machines (VMs) will now feature per-second billing, starting immediately (AWS users still have to wait until October 2). This new pricing scheme extends to preemptible machines and VMs that run premium operating systems, including Windows Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Enterprise Linux Server. With that, it one-ups AWS, which only offers per-second billing for basic Linux instances and not for Windows Server and other Linux distributions on its platform that currently feature a separate hourly charge.
Like AWS, Google will charge for a minimum of one minute.
It's worth noting that Google already featured per-second billing for its Persistent Disks, GPUs and committed use discounts.
While Google argues that, for most use cases, per-second billing will only result in very small billing changes, the company also notes there are plenty of applications where being able to quickly scale up and down makes a lot of sense (websites, mobile apps and data processing jobs, for example).
"This is probably why we haven’t heard many customers asking for per-second," Paul Nash, Group Product Manager for Compute Engine, writes in today's announcement. "But, we don’t want to make you choose between your morning coffee and your core hours, so we’re pleased to bring per-second billing to your VMs, with a one-minute minimum."
So while Google doesn't quite come out and say it, this is clearly a reaction to Amazon's move, even though the company mostly sees it as another checkbox in a feature comparison between the two cloud computing services.
So what about Microsoft?
So far, Microsoft hasn't made a similar move. "With Azure Container Instances we've actually led the way for per-second billing, with a service that spins up in seconds and spins down in seconds, we realized it was incredibly critical to give customers this granularity in costs," Corey Sanders, Microsoft's head of product for Azure Compute, told me at the Microsoft Ignite conference when I asked him about his company's plans. "I'm excited to see other clouds follow suit and offer customers the best flexibility for their pricing."
As for regular virtual machines, Sanders stayed on message and noted that Microsoft wanted to focus on containers because it's there that per-second billing makes the most sense. "We're always looking to improve billing constructs across our platform and to make it easier and more agile for our customers to use," he said. I'd be very surprised if Microsoft didn't make a move to also check the per-second billing checkbox in the near future, though.