Q&A with Miles Ward, Global Head of Solutions, Google Cloud Platform
Miles Ward is Global Head of Solutions at Google Cloud Platform. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with him on Fastly’s Cloud Accelerator, where he brings energy, passion, and insight to every conversation. His years of experience include incredible projects like working on the Mars rover landing for NASA and helping with the Obama for America 2012 campaign. He also happens to be one of the funniest people I know, with a quick wit and a quirked brow that makes you stop and consider the vision in what he’s just said.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Miles Ward and chat about trends in the cloud industry, working with Fastly, and how Google Cloud Platform really sets itself apart.
Can you give us a brief overview of what you’re working on at Google Cloud Platform?
Rocking out. Okay, more detail you say. I run a team of smart creatives who work closely with innovative, path-breaking, and just plain big customers to help them get the most out of our platform. We take what we learn from those opportunities and write it down as fast as we can so everyone can benefit. Sometimes that goes so far as building new tools which help customers understand, adopt, and leverage our cloud. Rocks, right?
How’s the cloud industry changing, and where do you see it going in the next few years?
The industry is growing up! It’s not just for startups and pioneers anymore. You aren’t just running their side projects on cloud, they’re running everything. You can see that in the blooming diversity of workloads (financial services, bioinformatics, IoT, rendering, live streaming, gaming, high-performance computing, computational fluid dynamics, analytics, and business intelligence, oh my!), the utility at different business phases, and the resultant incredible growth rate. Self-healing. Auto-autoscaled. Orchestrated not implemented. Containers. Multi-provider. Heterogeneous infrastructure. ZeroOps/NoBackend. IaaS/PaaS hybrids. Each of these changes alone would rock this industry, but we’re doing them all at the same time, right now. Liftoff!
And how does Google Cloud Platform differentiate from its competitors?
Google Cloud Platform has some unique features that really make a tangible difference for customers. Here are a few examples, starting with what’s problematic elsewhere and how Google Cloud Platform stacks up:
Xen's fragility >> Live Migration
Other vendor’s network disk track record >> Persistent Disk
AK/SK character based security >> oAuth2
Big up-front committed payments? >> Easy, automatic sustained use discounts
Hourly billing (don’t get me started on monthly) >> Per Minute Billing
5 min boots >> 45 sec for instances or 50 milliseconds for containers
5 hrs to first byte on other archives >> 3 sec with Google Cloud Storage Nearline
Pre-warm your “scalable” load balancer >> 1-1,000,000 RPS in 15 seconds on Google Cloud Platform
15 connections worldwide to your cloud >> try 72.
75,000 IOPS >> 680,000 IOPS
Databases disk bound >> CPU bound :)
Oh, and we’re 40% cheaper. 0_o
Why did Google Cloud Platform choose to work with Fastly?
They rock too! Okay, more detail you say. When we spoke with informed customers, roads kept leading back to Fastly. We’ve found Fastly’s team to be professional and prompt, solution-oriented, and customer focused. Set all that aside; their system just works. Fast, reliable, consistent, global, at a low, predictable price. This is what every customer we talk to about CDN asks for.
How are the interconnects between Google and Fastly benefiting customers as you work with them?
Over Google Cloud Interconnect, networking is cheap, reliable, and absurdly fast. As one of our first partners to connect to Google Cloud Platform over this new feature, Fastly reaps the benefits of this improved performance and passes it along to our joint customers. One real-world benefit of this connection is that customers can leverage Fastly together with Google Cloud Storage to generate results 4x better than S3. It’s a pretty staggering stat, no? Because Fastly is interconnected with Google Cloud Platform at nine different geographically distributed points around the globe, any cache misses that demand an origin lookup happen over this private, optimized connection. The result is seriously lower latency for these lookups, which means a better experience for our joint users.
Google Cloud Platform recently announced Google Cloud Storage Nearline. Can you talk about why that’s been so compelling to your customers? What are some use cases that you’re seeing?
Nearline reads data in user experience tolerable timeframes (a few seconds), but costs a penny per gb. Lots of content, especially origin content for deep libraries of material fronted by a CDN, would be served cheaper via Nearline than any other system. It’s powerful as an archive; at this price-point it’s quite competitive with tape from a TCO perspective with a hilariously simpler usage model. It’s also great as a default landing spot for bulk IoT data; it’s just as easy to load BigQuery or Cloud Bigtable from Nearline as it is standard Google Cloud Storage.
We’ve seen very consistent performance curves in response times from Google Cloud Storage and Google Compute Engine. Why is Google Cloud Platform performance so consistent?
We’re built on some pretty amazing technology from Google’s Technical Infrastructure team; you know, the fine folks behind the systems that power Google Search, Gmail, Apps, Maps, and the other innumerable services Google provides. Each of these systems are very, very demanding applications to run, and Google Cloud Platform takes advantage of the experience, expertise, and incredible technologies this team has built to meet those demands. Tools like Borg, Dremel, Spanner, and many many, many, many more provide the flexibility, speed, and control required to operate our vast infrastructure. These next-generation tools are designed to drive incredible performance, and incredible consistency; so what you see as day-to-day consistent performance is the result of first-principles design, hyperscale automation, and tenacious operations work by our engineers.
What’s the biggest advantage of setting up a Fastly Origin Shield in front of your Google Cloud Platform origin?
Reducing load on your servers. In “vanilla” CDN systems, a cache miss on any edge POP means that a request is coming to your servers. With the “hot chocolate” Origin Shield, Fastly creates a layer on their side which soaks this first tier of cache misses up, which can reduce load on your servers by 75% or more. Especially for global, content-rich launches, this means even more resilience, performance, and lower cost. Plus it’s tastier!
Which feature of the Fastly Cloud Accelerator do you see as the most valuable when paired with Google Cloud Platform?
I’ve worked with lots of large site/system launches, and I can tell you that being able to instantly drive cache invalidation/purges is just crucial. Nothing burns more than smashing your F5 key (or Command-R) a few thousand times waiting for a bad CSS file to age out. Excruciating. With Fastly, this isn’t an issue. Their Software Defined Network (SDN) enables instant cache invalidation, as well as a host of other features like Origin Shield and Dynamic Site Acceleration. Google uses SDN (namely Andromeda), so we’re really familiar with how powerful a tool it can be in practice; no wonder Fastly can do such amazing things!
What are some of the benefits you’re seeing for customers using both Google Cloud Platform + Fastly? Any cool use cases?
Vimeo’s use case is pretty great; they’ve built this incredible dynamic media management stack on Google Cloud Platform and Fastly they call ViewMaster. It’s allowing them to dynamically tailor images and video specifically for the device, OS, and network environment their users are coming from, all on the fly! They’re delivering this deeply customized, personal, optimized experience for each customer, all while saving substantially on hosting and implementation complexity thanks to Google Cloud Platform and Fastly. What could be better than that?