Google Compute Engine’s Preemptible Virtual Machines Are Now Generally Available

Google’s preemptible virtual machine instances for Compute Engine are now generally available.

The company launched these preemptible virtual machines (VMs) about four months ago. What makes this type of VM special is that Google can shut it down at any time but in return sells it at a significant discount of up to 70 percent.

The concept behind preemptible instances is somewhat similar to that of Amazon Web Service’s spot instances in that Google is probably also using this service as a way to sell unused machines at a discount when they are running idle. Google notes that it may not have any of these instances available during peak usage (but hints that plenty of machines are typically available during nights and weekends). While Amazon uses a bidding process, though, Google sells these instances for a set price.

Because Google may terminate these machines at any time, you probably don’t want to run any workloads on them that aren’t fault-tolerant. For the kind of distributed compute and batch workloads that can failover when one machine goes down, though, preemptible machines can offer significant cost savings.

The Broad Institute used Cycle Computing’s service and preemptible VMs for its genomics research, for example. “Preemptible VMs are a great new offering for big compute, analytics, and batch workloads, and we’re happy to support them as an option for our customers. The Broad Institute’s story showcases a production workload running in 6 hours instead of 6 weeks, thanks to Preemptible VMs”, said Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing in today’s announcement.

Google’s recently acquired Zync visual effects and animation rendering solution also uses preemptible VMs as an option for users who want to reduce their rendering cost.