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Google Cloud Costs: Understanding and Managing Your GCP Bill

The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is one of the three major public clouds (see our detailed comparison of AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud). Google has emphasized pricing as a competitive differentiator for its cloud offering, and aims to provide pricing that is both lower and more friendly and intuitive than other cloud providers. Cost is a key parameter to consider if you are considering migrating to Google Cloud or switching to any other different cloud provider.

In this post, we’ll explain the basics of Google Cloud pricing, tools Google provides for viewing and managing cloud costs, and some simple best practices to save on your Google Cloud bill. In addition, we’ll show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help reduce your Google Cloud storage costs.

In this article, you will learn:

Google Cloud Pricing Basics

The Google Cloud Platform offers pricing based on four principles: 

  1. No upfront costs—users are never required to make an upfront investment to use any GCP services.
  2. Pay as you go—across compute, storage, and data transfer, Google only charges for resources actually used, allowing users to scale up and down flexibly.
  3. No termination fees—users can always scale down or shut off services without incurring any additional cost.
  4. Free tier—Google offers a 12-month Free Trial with $300 of credit for all its cloud services. There is also an Always Free Tier which provides the major GCP services for free, with limits on usage. Some of the services included in the free tier and their limits are shown below.

GCP Free Tier

GCP services

Google offers pricing features that help its users reduce their cloud costs:

  • Sustained-use discounts—Google offers up to 30% off for workloads that run for most of the billing month on GCP services.
  • Committed-use discounts—users can save up to 57% by committing to use an instance for a certain time period, with no upfront payment and with the flexibility to change instances during the commitment period.
  • Preemptible VMs—similar to the concept of AWS spot instances, Google offers up to 79% off for Virtual Machines that may be shut down at any time and replaced by others.
  • Per-second billing—while other cloud providers charge for services by the hour, Google charges for all services per second, which can add up to major savings when instances are frequently started and stopped.
  • ColdLine storage—Google cloud storage provides NearLine and ColdLine storage tiers for archived data, which are significantly cheaper than ordinary storage and offer fast access.
  • Custom machine types—GCP is the only major cloud provider that lets users assemble their own machine configurations. This can translate into significant savings if you need a machine with stronger capabilities, but the high-end instances offered by other providers are not an exact fit.

Google Cloud Cost Management Tools

Google Cloud Platform, like other public clouds, offers cost management tools at no charge (except if you need to use Google cloud services to store or process your cost data). These tools include:

Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator
The GCP calculator lets you select any cloud service, specify service parameters such as the number of instances, their specs, how long they are expected to run during the month, storage and data transfer requirements, and get a detailed cost estimate. You can also use the calculator to compare GCP costs to those of other cloud providers.

Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator

Resource hierarchy
GCP provides a granular hierarchy of resources, allowing you to control access, permissions, and also cost parameters of cloud services. You can apply policies that include cost parameters and quotas at any level of the hierarchy, and policies are applied to the current node and any of its descendants.

Resource Hierarchy OverviewSource: Google Cloud Platform

Billing access control
As part of Google’s Cloud Identity and Access Management (IAM), you can assign roles at any level of your resource hierarchy that can perform cost-related activities. Cloud IAM supports the following billing access roles:

  • Billing Account Creator
  • Billing Account Administrator
  • Billing Account User
  • Billing Account Viewer
  • Project Billing Manager

Quotas
GCP lets project owners apply a hard limit on how many resources a project can use. There are two types of quotas:

  • Rate quota—for example, number of read or write operations per day. The quota resets after a predefined period, e.g. one day.
  • Allocation quota—for example, how many instances are allowed to run.

Four Best Practices for Reducing Google Cloud Costs

Managing cloud costs is complex, and larger organizations use cloud management tools and platforms to reduce costs. Here are a few simple best practices to get you started.

  1. Stop or destroy resources when not used

For most GCP resources, there is a running state and a stopped state, and some costs are attached to the time period in which the instance or service is running. Anyone interacting with Google resources should create a script that starts, stops, and destroys a resource according to actual application usage. Keep resources stopped or shut them down completely if they are not in use. This will save costs and also prevent operational and security issues.

  1. Select appropriate instance storage

On the Google Compute Engine, be careful how much local storage you select for your virtual machines. If you select a 50GB drive, you will be charged for that drive even if your apps use only 5GB. Design your applications to move data that is not required locally to lower cost storage such as Cloud Storage Standard, NearLine or ColdLine tiers.

  1. Select the most appropriate Google Cloud Storage tier

Google offers several tiers with different levels of redundancy, availability and ingress/egress costs. Be sure to select the tier that is most appropriate for each workload:

  • Multi-regional redundancy—suitable for frequently accessed, mission critical data
  • Regional redundancy—suitable for frequently accessed, important data
  • NearLine—suitable for data accessed less than once per month
  • ColdLine—suitable for data accessed less than once per year 
  1. Identify expensive resources

It is common to see 80% of cloud costs attributed to 20% of resources. A good way to identify high cost resources is to use the cost calculator. Look for resources that are charged even if you don’t use them, or resources that might auto-scale and grow exponentially in cost during the course of normal operations.

Reducing Google Cloud Costs with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides storage efficiencies, including thin provisioning, data compression, and deduplication, reducing the storage footprint and costs by up to 70%.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP also provides data tiering for Google Cloud, automatically and seamlessly moving infrequently-used data from block storage to object storage and back, resulting in substantial cost reductions.

Visit our Google Cloud Storage TCO Calculator with Cloud Volumes ONTAP to calculate your savings.

Want to learn more about Google Cloud Migration?

Have a look at these articles:

Want to get started? Try out Cloud Volumes ONTAP today with a 30-day free trial.

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