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Google today broadened the availability of a couple of its cloud services for working with applications packaged up in containers. The Google Container Engine for deploying and managing containers on Google’s cloud infrastructure, until now available in alpha, is now in beta. And the Google Container Registry for privately storing Docker container images, previously in beta, is now generally available.

Google has made a few tweaks to Container Engine, which relies on the Google-led Kubernetes open-source container management software, which can deploy containers onto multiple public clouds. For one thing, now Google will only update the version of Kubernetes running inside of Container Engine when you run a command. And you can turn on Google Cloud Logging to track the activity of a cluster “with a single checkbox,” Google product manager Eric Han wrote in a blog post on the news.

And now there are prices for Container Engine: 15 cents per hour for “standard” clusters with as many as 100 virtual machine nodes and managed uptime. Google won’t charge anything for “basic” clusters with up to five virtual machine nodes and no managed uptime.

Google has repeatedly pointed out that for years it has run internal applications inside containers, rather than more traditional virtual machines. And while Kubernetes runs just fine on any infrastructure, Google cloud executive Craig McLuckie last year told VentureBeat that “it works extremely well on the Google Cloud Platform.”


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The big picture here is that Google aspires to become even more of a player in the public cloud market than it is now. Solid tools for storing images and deploying apps in containers can help Google in this regard.

Meanwhile, other leading cloud providers, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon Web Services, have been executing on their container strategies too.

Rich support for containers is one of a few ways in which these cloud providers are competing. Price and geographical availability remain important. But in the future, as the container becomes a more widely accepted unit of computing, cloud-based container storage and management could become necessary, not just nice to have.

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