Book Review : Instant Google Compute Engine by PacktPub

The IaaS space has been dominated by Amazon Web Services (AWS) since the last 5 years or so. For years, it was thought that Google would someday come out with a rival offering that would not just match it feature for feature eventually but because of Google’s scale of operations, would trump it in many areas. We finally have a very credible offering in terms of Google Compute Engine, which is now available to all.

While I am more familiar with Google’s PaaS (App Engine), I thought it is time to take an introductory look at their Compute Engine offering because a raw machine is what you need at times and for special kind of applications, where you might need one for a few hours only, it makes sense to go for IaaS.

Once I got the initial credit from the kind folks at Google Compute Engine, I was off with my project. The book that I referred to is PackPub’s Instant Google Compute Engine. I am a fan of books that are anywhere between 70-150 pages and which let you check a technology / framework out within a weekend. This book did not fail me.

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The book is task-based and will require that you are in front of your machine and are ready to try things out at explained in the book.

The chapters are laid out well and meet the requirements well of someone looking out to get familiar with the toolset that will help you navigate Google Compute Engine usage. The topics covered are:

  • Overview of Compute Engine
  • Setting up a Project
  • Setup and overview of gcutil, the command line tool that you will use to setup various stuff in GCE
  • Details on Instances, Networks, Firewalls, Routes, Persistent Disks, Mounting and much more

While Google Compute Engine is definitely much more than this, the book gives a quick overview, makes sure that your local machine is setup correctly, helps you get your hands dirty with a basic instance, starting/stopping, etc and setting up a basic Web Server. Once this basics are in place, you can definitely dive into more areas available on the net.

The book does not cover stuff like Load Balancer, etc since it’s focus is to keep things to a minimum for now. Future revisions of the book could definitely look at including these features along with some Reference Architectures for using GCE.

Google Compute Engine is definitely a solid IaaS and one that is definitely going to make people evaluate it, rather than blindly going over to AWS. Check out an article that clearly articulates why GCE is better than AWS in several areas.

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