Google has launched a new service it's calling Google Cloud SQL. It's a cloud-based, scalable MySQL database environment that can be used by individuals, businesses, or whomever. The best part is that it's free. At least, for now.
While a lot of people in the industry are abuzz with the opening of this service, there is plenty of salt being thrown too. Google has made it clear that while this service (which should still be considered beta) is free until at least the end of the year, there will be charges coming in the future. The question is whether Google has learned their lesson from the last time they did this.
Not too long ago, Google released the App Engine cloud computing infrastructure to the world. Also as a free or mostly-free service. They announced that it would not be free forever, just during testing, and that it would eventually come with a charge. What developers who began using the infrastructure didn't realize was how large that price was going to be.
Early this year, when Google announced pricing for the App Engine, devs who were using it were dumbfounded at the gigantic sticker price. An outcry ensued and Google realized that they had a serious PR problem on their hands and issued an apology for the suddenness of the price hike and their failure to provide the information devs needed to understand what their apps were going to cost them once pricing was in place.
With Cloud SQL, Google appears to have made some strides towards understanding how these things can affect their initial customer base (and potentially make or break the service's reputation). They've promised to give at least 30 day's notice before implementing any price changes.
The question is whether businesses will still want to use the platform given the track history with App Engine and the potential cost of migrating the database from Google's platform to another, perhaps lower-cost or in-house platform later. The method of that charge will also be in question.
The industry really doesn't have a standard when it comes to database charges. Most hosts charge for server time and space, so the larger the size of your DB and the more resources it requires to access it, the higher the price for hosting. This generally makes sense, since consumers are then paying for what they're using.
Another model is to charge for server time and not charge for space used. This is popular in cloud-based systems which supposedly have unlimited space resources, so the only real cost associated is in machine time and bandwidth.
The opposite of that model is to charge for space only. This was popular as an option a few years ago when disk space was usually the limiting factor on a server. Technology has changed this, however, and moved the weight of the database towards processor time and bandwidth rather than space.
Regardless, it would pay anyone planning to use Google's Cloud SQL to be prepared to move to an alternative or pay a hefty price to stay there. Even if the search giant offers the service at a reasonable, affordable fee, you'll at least be prepared in case they do not.