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Google follows Amazon Web Services in allowing cloud customers to bill by the second

(Image courtesy CC 2.0/Flickr user Earls37a)

One week after Amazon Web Services rolled-out per-second billing for its cloud customers, Google plans to do the same for Google Cloud Platform customers running virtual machine instances.

The new billing option goes into effect immediately for Google Compute Engine, Container Engine, Cloud Dataproc, and App Engine, Google announced in a blog post Tuesday. Curiously, the company seemed almost dismissive of the benefits from the move to per-second billing: “As you can see, the value of increased billing precision is mostly in per-minute. This is probably why we haven’t heard many customers asking for per-second,” wrote Paul Nash, group product manager for Compute Engine, in the post.

Google has offered per-minute billing for some time (as does Microsoft Azure), in contrast to the per-hour billing that AWS had in place prior to its own move last week to per-second billing for certain services. That is what Nash was probably referring to, tweaking a rival cloud provider when noting that Google customers already enjoyed cost savings from the per-minute approach, but AWS evangelist Jeff Barr provided several examples of customers that could benefit from per-second billing in announcing the news last week, such as gaming and ad tech.

Billing by the second also paves the way for companies to experiment with serverless technologies, which require much less compute time than traditional cloud software development practices. More and more developers are starting to use serverless techniques for apps that can encounter sudden, brief unexpected spikes in demand, which is exactly the scenario where per-second billing can help big cloud customers save money.

The new billing option requires a minimum one-minute charge (as does AWS) and is available for virtual machines in the products listed above running on Windows and Linux, while AWS only extended per-second billing to EC2 and EBS instances on Linux. Prices continue to fall in cloud computing, but as more and more companies move workloads into cloud data centers, don’t worry: cloud providers are still raking in cash.

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