Google’s Cloud Platform improves its free tier and adds always-free compute and storage services

Google today quietly launched an improved always-free tier and trial program for its Cloud Platform.

The free tier, which now offers enough power to run a small app in Google’s cloud, is offered in addition to an expanded free trial program (yep — that’s all a bit confusing). This free trial gives you $300 in credits that you can use over the course of 12 months. Previously, Google also offered the $300 in credits, but those had to be used within 60 days.

The free tier, which the company never really advertised, now allows for free usage of a small (f1-micro) instance in Compute Engine, Cloud Pub/Sub, Google Cloud Storage and Cloud Functions. In total, the free tier now includes 15 services.

The addition of the Compute Engine instance and 5GB of free Cloud Storage usage is probably the most important update here because those are, after all, the services that are at the core of most cloud applications. You can find the exact limits here.

It’s worth noting that the free tier is only available in Google’s us-east1, us-west1 and us-central1 regions.

 With this move, Google is clearly stepping up its attacks against AWS, which offers a similar but more limited free tier and free 12-month trial program for its users. Indeed, many of Google’s limits look fairly similar to AWS’s 12-month free tier, but the AWS always-free tier doesn’t include a free virtual machine, for example (you only get it for free for 12 months). I expect AWS will pull even with Google in the near future and extend its free offer, too.

The idea here is clearly to get people comfortable with Google’s platform. It’s often the developer who runs a hobby project in the cloud who gets the whole team in an enterprise to move over or who decides to use a certain public cloud to run a startup’s infrastructure. New developers, too, typically chose AWS to learn about the cloud because of its free 12-month trials. The 60-day $300 credit Google previously offered simply didn’t cut it for developers who wanted to learn how to work with Google’s cloud.

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