GCP: Everything You Need to Know About Google Cloud Platform

What is Google Cloud Platform?

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a collection of modular cloud services including compute, networking, storage, databases, analytics, and AI. Organizations rely on the GCP cloud to provide a cloud computing platform for managing applications and data online.

Cloud GCP helps organizations scale without investing in physical infrastructure. In the flexible GCP cloud environment, developers leverage an extensive global network of infrastructure and data centers to build, test, and deploy applications

Google Cloud vs GCP

The suite of Google Cloud suite of Google Cloud computing services lives on Google’s infrastructure and platform. It includes GCP, as well as Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Google Cloud AI, and Google Maps Platform.

GCP is a component of Google Cloud.

What is Google Cloud Platform Used for?

Google Cloud Platform serves a wide range of purposes for users from load balancing to Google Cloud Platform server management:

  • Infrastructure and tools that support application development, testing, and deployment
  • Big data and analytics services help users process and analyze large datasets
  • GCP tools to train and deploy machine learning models
  • Cloud Storage, Cloud SQL, and Filestore help users store, manage, and query data
  • GCP networking capabilities to enable building and managing virtual private clouds (VPCs), monitoring, and load balancing
  • Capabilities for connecting, managing, and analyzing data from internet of things (IoT) devices
  • Tools for Google Cloud Platform web server management 
  • GCP identity and access management and key management services

For more on how to use Google Cloud Platform, see this post on getting started with GCP from GCP Cloud Community.

How GCP Works

GCP computing power, storage, databases, machine learning, and other services delivered in the cloud. Here’s how Google Cloud Platform works:

  • Infrastructure. GCP operates across a worldwide network of fast and reliable servers and data centers.
  • Compute services. GCP supports virtual machines (VMs), containerized applications, and serverless computing.
  • Storage. GCP offers object storage, managed relational databases, NoSQL databases, and other large-scale, low-latency storage.
  • Networking. GCP creates isolated network environments, distributes incoming traffic across multiple instances, and connects on-premises networks.
  • Big data and machine learning. GCP offers tools for data warehousing and analytics, real-time data processing, building and deploying models, and deep learning.
  • Security and identity. GCP features include identity and access management (IAM), encryption at rest and in transit, and advanced threat detection and prevention

How Much does Google Cloud Platform Cost?

The cost of Google Cloud Platform is competitive with flexible billing options, including per-minute billing and sustained use discounts, allowing users to optimize costs based on usage patterns.

How does Google Cloud Platform work as a free service? In several ways:

  • Free tier. This offers users limited free usage for select GCP services, such as Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, Cloud Functions, and App Engine.
  • Free credits. GCP often provides free credits that can be used to access GCP services beyond what is available in the Free Tier to new users or customers as part of promotional offers or partnerships.
  • Limited usage. Free services and resources offered by GCP have usage limits within given time frames. Once users exceed these limits, they may be billed for any additional usage.
  • Educational programs. GCP offers access to free cloud computing resources and training for students and academic institutions.
  • Free trials. GCP occasionally offers free trials for certain services or products.
  • Learning resources. GCP provides extensive documentation, tutorials, and learning resources to help users such as online courses, hands-on labs, and community forums.

Google Cloud Platform API Management 

Google Cloud Platform API management services allow users to effectively create, deploy, secure, monitor, and manage APIs:

  • API creation and deployment. Google Cloud Endpoints enables the creation of RESTful APIs hosted on GCP. Cloud Functions, App Engine, or Compute Engine can also deploy APIs.
  • API security. Enforce fine-grained IAM roles with authentication and authorization mechanisms such as OAuth 2.0, API keys, and JSON Web Tokens (JWT).
  • API monitoring and logging. These services monitor the API usage patterns, latency, error rates, and other metrics in real-time to determine performance, availability, and usage and help users optimize API performance and troubleshoot issues.
  • API analytics. Metrics such as total requests, latency, traffic patterns, and geographical distribution of API consumers provide insight into user behavior, and API usage and performance.
  • API developer portal. Publish and explore documentation, manage API versions, and provide self-service access to developers so they can discover APIs, obtain API keys, and test API endpoints.
  • API lifecycle management. Support throughout the API lifecycle, from design and development to deployment and retirement. Users can version APIs, deprecate older versions, and manage backward compatibility to ensure smooth transitions for API consumers.
  • Enforce rate limiting and quotas. Set limits on the number of requests per API key, user, or IP address, and configure quotas based on resource usage or cost to prevent abuse and ensure fair usage of APIs.API gateway. Cloud Endpoints serve as a fully managed
  • API gateway with features like request routing, authentication, authorization, and monitoring.

How to Setup Google Cloud Platform

There are several steps in setting up GCP:

  • Create a Google account. (Or use an existing account.)
  • Sign up for GCP. Visit cloud.google.com and sign up for GCP using a Google Account.
  • Enable billing. To use GCP services beyond the free tier or trial period, enable billing.
  • Create a project. Create new GCP projects to organize and manage resources within GCP. 
  • Access the GCP console. After creating a project, access the GCP Console to use services and manage resources via console.cloud.google.com.
  • Explore GCP services. Navigate the left side of the console to access services, such as Compute, Storage, and Networking.
  • Learn and experiment. Review GCP documentation, tutorials, and learning resources and experiment with different services and features on the Free Tier.

Google Cloud Platform Services


  • Compute Engine provides virtual machines (VMs) on Google infrastructure
  • Kubernetes Engine delivers managed services for containerized applications
  • App Engine aids in building and deploying scalable web applications
  • Cloud Functions serverless platform helps build event-driven applications


  • Cloud Storage object storage and data retrieval
  • Cloud SQL fully-managed relational database
  • Cloud Bigtable NoSQL wide-column database for large-scale analytics and real-time applications
  • Firestore NoSQL document database for mobile, web, and server development


  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for networking
  • Cloud Load Balancing distributes traffic across instances of Google Cloud Platform infrastructure worldwide to ensure network availability
  • Cloud CDN service ensures low latency and high data transfer speeds

Big Data and Machine Learning

  • The BigQuery fully-managed analytics and business intelligence data warehouse
  • Dataflow managed stream and batch data processing service
  • AI Platform with managed building, testing, and deployment services for machine learning models
  • TensorFlow open-source machine learning framework for building and training models


  • Cloud Spanner, a relational database service
  • Cloud Firestore, a database for web, mobile, and server development
  • Firebase Real-time Database is a NoSQL option for mobile and web applications
  • Memorystore, a fully-managed, in-memory data store service

Developer Tools

  • The Cloud Build continuous integration and delivery platform for building, testing, and deploying applications
  • Cloud Code IDE extensions and plugins for building Kubernetes and Cloud Run applications
  • Cloud Source Repositories in GCP hosts Git repositories to provide version control

Security and Identity

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) manages access control for GCP resources
  • Cloud Identity offers IAM services for users and devices
  • Cloud Security Command Center is the security and risk management platform for GCP resources


  • Stackdriver is a monitoring, logging, and diagnostics suite for GCP resources
  • Manage Google Cloud Platform projects and resources with the web-based Cloud Console interface
  • Cloud Billing is a receivable and cost management service for GCP usage

GCP Marketplace Overview

Google Cloud Marketplace offers a curated catalog of pre-configured software packages, including virtual machines, containers, and APIs. Users can browse, deploy, and manage software solutions and services provided by third-party vendors that are integrated with GCP.

Google Cloud Platform Infrastructure

GCP infrastructure operates across a global network of data centers and fiber-optic networks:

  • Global network. Data centers worldwide are interconnected through Google’s high-speed fiber-optic network.
  • Data centers. Each is a highly secure facility equipped with custom-built hardware and networking infrastructure, housing physical servers, storage devices, and networking equipment that power GCP services.
  • Regions and zones. Regions are geographic locations of GCP resources, while availability zones are isolated locations within regions that provide redundancy and fault tolerance.
  • Resource allocation. GCP dynamically allocates computing resources to users based on demand and availability. Users can provision virtual machines, storage, and other resources through the GCP Console, API, or command-line interface, and GCP automatically handles the underlying infrastructure.
  • Scalability and reliability. Users scale their applications and services up or down as needed, and GCP ensures high availability and uptime through redundant systems and failover mechanisms.
  • Google Cloud Platform security. This includes physical measures at data centers, and use of encryption, IAM, and advanced threat detection and prevention systems.
  • Edge locations. In addition to data centers, edge locations, also known as Points of Presence (PoPs), around the world help improve the performance and latency of GCP services by caching content closer to end-users.

GCP vs AWS vs Azure

Taking the broader AWS vs azure vs GCP comparison, the choice between them often depends on factors like specific use cases, budget, and existing technology stack.

How is GCP different from AWS?

  • Global infrastructure. In terms of differences between GCP vs AWS, AWS has the largest global infrastructure footprint and the most regions and availability zones.
  • Compute services. Similar to those provided by GCP, AWS provides VMs, container services, and serverless tools.
  • Storage. Both options offer support for object storage, managed relational databases, NoSQL database, and NoSQL document database options.
  • Networking. Both GCP and AWS offer support for VPC, load balancing, and direct connect options.
  • Big data and analytics. Both support data warehousing, stream processing, and machine learning, but only GCP offers batch processing services.
  • Pricing and billing. GCP bills per-minute with sustained use and committed use discounts. AWS bills per-second with various pricing options and discounts like Reserved Instances.
  • Market position. GCP is strongest on data analytics and machine learning, with a strong focus on Kubernetes and open-source technologies. AWS has the widest range of services and largest customer base, and is especially popular among startups and enterprises.

How does GCP work vs Azure?

  • Global infrastructure. Microsoft Azure Microsoft Azure also has a global presence with multiple regions and availability zones, but fewer than AWS.
  • Compute services. Offers VMs, and Kubernetes services.
  • Storage. Supports object storage, managed relational databases, NoSQL databases, and table storage.
  • Networking. Supports virtual networking and load balancing.
  • Big data and analytics. Azure supports data warehousing, analytics, and machine learning.
  • Pricing and billing. Azure bills per-minute with options for pay-as-you-go pricing, Reserved Instances, and Hybrid Benefit discounts.
  • Market position. Azure has a strong presence in the enterprise market and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft products and services

Advantages and Disadvantages of Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform delivers both advantages and drawbacks for businesses and developers:

Advantages of Google Cloud Platform

  • Scalability. GCP infrastructure can quickly adapt and allow users to scale up or down as needed without provisioning resources.
  • Global infrastructure. GCP offers low-latency access to services worldwide.
  • Innovation. Google and GCP provide access to data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence technologies and tools.
  • Seamless Google services integration. Users can easily leverage existing tools and workflows.
  • Security. GCP offers encryption for data at rest and in transit, IAM, and advanced threat detection protection for data and infrastructure.
  • Open source. GCP is compatible with open source frameworks like Kubernetes, TensorFlow, and Apache Beam.
  • Google Cloud Platform cost. The cost of Google Cloud Platform is competitive and there are free options as described above

Disadvantages of Google Cloud Platform

  • Market share. GCP is a leading cloud provider, but it trails both AWS and Azure in terms of market share, which can reduce the availability of third-party offerings.
  • Complexity. GCP’s wide range of services and features can introduce a steep learning curve.
  • Documentation and support. Some users find these resources lacking compared to other cloud providers, making it challenging to troubleshoot issues or find answers to technical questions.
  • Service maturity. GCP offers comprehensive but comparatively less mature or feature-rich services than AWS and Azure, leading to limitations in certain use cases.
  • Vendor lock-In. Users that rely on proprietary services or APIs that are difficult to migrate away from may risk lock-in.

About Google Cloud Platform Certifications

Google Cloud Platform certifications validate the technical expertise of people working in cloud computing and GCP services roles:

  • Certification tracks. There are certifications for Cloud Architects, Data Engineers, Machine Learning Engineers, Developers, and other tracks based on role and experience.
  • Prerequisites. Each track has specific requirements, including relevant work experience, training, and foundational knowledge of GCP services. Some may also require exams.
  • Training courses and resources. GCP online courses, instructor-led training, practice exams, documentation, and hands-on labs help candidates prepare for certification.
  • Certification exams. Exams are administered by third-party testing centers or online through the Kryterion Webassessor platform. They typically consist of multiple-choice questions, and candidates must achieve a passing score to become certified.
  • Certification levels. Associate-level certifications validate foundational knowledge and skills. Professional-level certifications demonstrate advanced expertise in specific job roles or domains. Specialty certifications focus on specialized areas such as security, networking, or machine learning.
  • Recertification. GCP certifications are valid for two years. After that, candidates pass a current version of the exam to maintain certification.
  • Benefits of certification. Certification acknowledges the skills and expertise of professionals, and enhances their career prospects and earning potential. Certified employees can leverage GCP services to drive business objectives and innovation for their employers.

WEKA on Google Cloud Platform

The WEKA Data Platform addresses all the challenges of running modern workloads in the cloud by delivering scalability, flexibility, and performance along with ease-of-use and affordable enterprise features on GCP.

WEKA on GCP also helps to optimize compute resource usage by growing or shrinking the global namespace, all without downtime. Users can add or reduce compute and storage capacity independently as needed, keeping hot data on NVMe and warm/cooler data on S3 Object Storage. Users get the most out of their GPU, TPU, and CPU resources by saturating them with data and maximizing their efficiency. The unique snap-to-object feature allows users to easily create a replica of production data and instantly push it to a second object store—enabling snapshot-based replication. The second cloud copy can facilitate workload migration to another application cluster or provide a fast recovery point objective (RPO) service guarantee.

WEKA on GCP delivers outstanding economics, return-on-investment, and application consolidation. WEKA on GCP also delivers enterprise features that customers expect, including data reduction, user quotas, high availability, encryption, multitenancy, data protection with instantaneous snapshots, clones, remote snapshots to secondary object storage for disaster recovery, backup, cross-region replication, and cloud-bursting from on-premises.