Google Offers Big-Data Analytics

Google is selling some of its analytic guts as an online service, in an effort to compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services in the market for enterprise cloud computing.

In November, Google offered a limited number of developers access to some of its most powerful data analysis software, part of what Google uses to index the Internet, in a product called BigQuery. On Tuesday, Google announced that it was selling that software, which can scan terabytes of information in seconds, as a service to corporate customers.

“When you have really large data sets, we have the capability to analyze them,” said Ju-kay Kwek, product manager for Google’s cloud data effort. “A query with five terabytes of data involved could be returned in 15 seconds.” That is, he said, about 10 times faster than the speed of many corporate data systems. He noted that in companies today, “it’s not uncommon to have problems that take half a day to analyze.”

Google’s aim may be to sell data storage in the cloud, as much as it is to sell analytic software. A company using BigQuery has to have data stored in the cloud data system, which costs 12 cents a gigabyte a month, for up to two terabytes, or 2,000 gigabytes. Above that, prices are negotiated with Google. BigQuery analysis costs 3.5 cents a gigabyte of data processed.

On Amazon, considered the leader in online data storage and computing, storage costs up to 12.5 cents for a gigabyte, with prices dropping for larger volumes or limited service guarantees. Other companies active in the fast-growing business include Microsoft, Rackspace and I.B.M. Hewlett-Packard has said it will soon offer a full cloud-computing service for businesses.

Amazon, whose Web services initially required lots of technical skill, has in recent months started offering easier-to-use databases and storage appliances that appeal to a broader audience. It has not yet opened up its own analytic tools for public use, but that is expected.

To date, external developers using BigQuery have done fast analysis for things like targeting Web ads, real-time management of rental properties being offered online, and techniques for selling products to online gamers.

Mr. Kwek said Google hoped that developers would make easy-to-use tools that encourage widespread use of the product, even by ordinary executives. Many people running Web businesses already use Google Analytics, which offers statistical information about the performance of Web sites.

“It’s still early days in cloud computing,” he said. “We have huge respect for A.W.S., but we’re different in terms of philosophy.” Where Amazon catered to technically able people, largely at start-ups, Google wants to attract lots of less-proficient executives.

It is unclear, however, how central the enterprise market is to Google, where over 95 percent of revenue still comes from ads aimed almost exclusively at consumers. Google Apps, a spreadsheet and document creation and collaboration service, has attracted a few million customers. Many other potentially valuable Google resources, like the free video chat feature of the Google Plus social network, have not been offered in business versions. Mr. Kwek said one reason for that is that Google wants to be sure of the reliability of the product before it offers it as a retail service to business.

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