How to make the most of the Google Cloud free tier

The cloud computing industry loves to give away free samples and Google is no different from Amazon or Microsoft in this respect. The companies know that if you give the customers a free taste, they’ll come back when it’s time for a meal.

Google offers two types of free. New customers get $300 to spend on any of the machines or services spread out among the 24 “cloud regions,” 73 “zones,” and 144 “network edge locations.” The money works pretty much everywhere in the Google cloud from raw compute power to any of several dozen different products like databases or map services.

But even when that free money runs out, the free gifts continue. There are 24 different products that offer continuous free samples that are billed as “always free.” Even if you’ve been a customer for years, you can still experiment. Of course Google adds the caveat that the word “always” in this generous promise is “subject to change.” But until that day comes, the BigQuery database will answer one terabyte of queries each month and AutoML Translation will turn 500,000 characters from one language to another.

Some developers use the free tier for what it’s intended to be: an opportunity to explore without begging their boss and their boss’s boss for a budget. Others work on a side hustle or a website for the neighborhood kids. When the load is small, it’s easy to innovate without dealing with a monthly bill.

Some developers take this to the extreme. They try to stay in the free tier as long as possible. Perhaps it’s because they want to brag about their insanely low burn rate. Maybe it’s just a form of modern machismo. Maybe they’re low on cash.

In any case, working this free angle as long as possible generally leads to lean and efficient web applications that do as much as possible with as little as possible. When the day comes that they leave the free tier, the monthly bills will stay small as the project scales, something that warms the heart of every CFO.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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