GCP Network Pricing: How to Beat the Hidden Fees

For the last few years, many companies have turned to Google Cloud to achieve the flexibility and elasticity the cloud provides while also reducing costs when compared to an on-premises solution. But what if the costs of cloud computing keep adding up?

Whether you are planning a new deployment or migrating data to the cloud, hidden data transfer charges can drastically increase your monthly cloud bill if left unchecked. Getting to know how GCP network pricing works can help you identify hidden data transfer costs so you can prevent them.

In this blog we’ll take a closer look at:

GCP Network Pricing and Hidden Data Transfer Costs

There are numerous data transfer types in Google Cloud, but in the end it all comes down to how data moves in two directions: inbound (ingress) and outbound (egress) traffic. Data transfers are usually charged according to the data’s location, its destination, and any additional services involved.

However, there are some data transfer charges that aren’t so obvious. These can be incurred by a service that is in use, from a minor resource setup configuration, or even the choice of network service. Let’s take a look at some of these fees.

Google Cloud Ingress Costs

Ingress is the traffic that comes into your resources in Google Cloud Platform, such as a Compute Engine Virtual Machine (VM), from another resource within your Google Cloud Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) or from the internet. Ingress traffic is usually free of charge, but there are cases where charges are involved.

Here’s where the hidden costs come in: When using a service that processes ingress traffic such as load balancers, Cloud NAT, or protocol forwarding, charges are applied per GB of traffic. At the same time, all responses to requests will be accountable as egress traffic. For instance, when using a Cloud NAT gateway, not only you will be charged for the service but also for the ingress and egress traffic with a price of 0.045$ per GB. That can ramp up your data transfer costs.

Cloud cloud ingress costsGoogle Cloud will charge both for the service and for traffic by the GB. Source: Google Cloud pricing page.

Google Cloud Egress Costs

Egress is the traffic that travels from your Google Cloud resources and usually is the culprit of the hefty data transfer bills. Google Cloud charges egress traffic according to the different data transfer types. Data transfers occur between VMs, between Google Cloud services and your users, and can remain within the same Cloud Zone or Cloud Region, or take place between distinct Cloud Regions. In all these cases, charges are applied accordingly.

There are a few cases where data transfers aren’t charged that you can take advantage of when planning your deployments. For instance, every egress traffic between your VM’s and specific non-cloud Google services (YouTube, Drive, Maps and Doubleclick) is free of charge even between different regions, and also egress traffic to a different Google Cloud service as long as it is within the same region, with the exception of Filestore, GKE, Cloud SQL and Memorystore for Redis where charges are applied. In both cases, whether an internal or external IP is used it is still free of charge.

But there are hidden fees that can come in. One example where egress traffic isn’t charged is between VM’s within the same Google Cloud Zone. However, only when using the internal IP address. Otherwise, Google will charge as if the traffic were between different Google Cloud Zones with a price of 0.1$ per GB. That could drastically ramp up costs, especially in large-scale deployments.

Google Cloud Egress CostsTraffic types and egress pricing on Google Cloud

Google Cloud Networking Service Tiers

When it comes to Google Cloud networking for data transfers between your Google Cloud instances and your users, there are two different tiers available:

  • Premium tier utilizes Google’s own backbone with several points of presence (PoPs) spread across the world, routing traffic to and from users with minimum congestion and optimal performance.
  • Standard tier uses the public internet that is subject to public ISPs for carrying traffic and is only available in certain regions and its performance is comparable to other cloud service providers.

While Premium tier is the default for all egress traffic and offers the highest performance, it might not be the best option when cost is a consideration. Standard tier is the more economical and ideal for single region deployments, but there can be a catch to this that can increase your costs, if you’re not careful: if you don’t explicitly select the Standard tier, the higher-cost Premium tier is going to be used by default.

How much of an effect will this have on your costs? For an example, let’s look at a data transfer of 50GB to the internet within the same region. Using the Premium tier and the Iowa server would cost $6 ($0.12 per GB) while using Standard tier it would cost $4.25 ($0.085 per GB). Also, as the monthly usage increases so does the difference in price per GB between tiers.

Premium Tier Price
Egress price using Premium tier (Iowa Server)

Standard Tier Price
Egress price using Standard tier (Iowa Server)

Google Cloud Cost Optimization for Data Transfers

In order to optimize data transfer costs in Google Cloud, it is crucial to implement a good strategy, from resource placement to preemptive measures. Here are a few guidelines that will help you get started:

  • Cloud Zone Exclusivity: Placing your VMs within the same Google Cloud Zone and using the internal IP of the resources avoids egress traffic charges.
  • Region Exclusivity: Retain all data transfers within the same region whenever possible, considering that inter-regions data transfers are pricier. Alternatively, you can examine the region with lowest rates that will also still fit your business needs.
  • Network Tiers: Consider both network tiers and not just the default Premium tier. As mentioned above, the Standard tier is more economical and could fit your business requirements.
  • Ingress Charges: The use of services that process traffic will come with additional transfer charges and should only be used when you ultimately need to. Remember that otherwise ingress traffic is free of charge.
  • Plan Ahead: Whether you are planning new deployments or making a few changes to an existing one, it is always a good idea to use the Google Cloud Pricing Calculator in order to get a better insight on future networking egress costs. 
  • Budget Alerts with Google Cloud Billing: Create budgets and set up cost forecast alerts with thresholds using Google Cloud Billing, in case there is an unexpected traffic flow that might exceed your monthly budget and notify you when you may need to take action.
  • Monitor Traffic with Google Cloud Logging: Enable VPC Flow Logs to better understand network usage in order to optimize network traffic expenses. You can view the VPC Flow Logs in Google Cloud Logging.
  • Reduce data volumes: Using a data management solution such as NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP can reduce the overall size of your data, which will in turn reduce your transfer sizes and costs.

Leverage NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP to Reduce Storage Costs and Data Transfer Costs

GCP network pricing is what it is, but there is a way to make sure you limit your spending for data transfers. Cloud Volumes ONTAP is the cloud-based data management solution from NetApp capable of further reducing your data transfer costs in Google Cloud.

With storage efficiency features such as data compression and deduplication, Cloud Volumes ONTAP will reduce your data footprint and data storage cost in the cloud by 70%. Thanks to these reduced data volumes, the size of your data transfers are lower, ultimately reducing data transfer costs.

Another way that Cloud Volumes ONTAP reduces storage costs is with automated storage tiering between Google Persistent Disk and Google Cloud Storage. This data movement between tiers does not accrue any additional transfer costs, and is done without user intervention based on the data usage pattern: infrequently used data is automatically moved to Google Cloud Storage, but when reads are detected, it will be shifted back up to block storage on Persistent Disk.

Find out more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP reduces costs in these customer case studies.

Yifat Perry, Product Marketing Lead

Product Marketing Lead

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