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Making BigQuery costs predictable.

By Barb Darrow
December 15, 2015

Many techies love using Google’s BigQuery data tool to ask questions about huge data sets. And while it has been positioned as a low-cost big data analytics option, the fact is that queries can run a long time across a ton of data and that can run up quite a bill.

That’s not the sort of predictability big companies want when it comes to any technology. And Google GOOG really wants to convince big companies that its cloud technology services are ready for prime time.

That’s why Google is now offering potential inquisitors a way to set a “custom quota” to ensure that the number crunching on a specified project does not exceed a pre-set daily limit.

In addition, a Query Explain feature promises to lay out, step by step, how BigQuery will go about processing the question on the table in advance. That way, in theory, you can see if your questions will be “write, read, or compute heavy” and better anticipate where performance bottlenecks could lurk, according to a blog post by Tino Tereshko, a technical program manager for Google. That means perhaps a better, more efficient query to begin with and a lesser bill for processing it.

The big public cloud players—led by pioneer Amazon AMZN Web Services—came to the fore because small startup companies, and increasingly internal developers at big companies, saw them as a great way to get work done without having to requisition (and pay for) additional servers and storage. But now, they have to convince IT departments and their bosses, that their services are suited for big business use. That means more focus on predictable costs and more IT-friendly controls going forward.

RedShift is Amazon’s closest competitor to BigQuery, but is different in how complex it is to deploy and scale, particularly across regions,” said David Mytton, chief executive of Server Density, a company that monitors server performance for customers. “In contrast, you just throw data at BigQuery and it handles scaling and redundancy with much simpler pricing.”

Amazon’s done a lot of that work with products like Trusted Advisor that help IT staff ensure they’re running the best resources for the job and not over-buying cloud resources. Microsoft MSFT , with its business-focused roots, is making strides selling Azure as a good corporate citizen. Google, on the other hand, still faces questions about how business-friendly its cloud services are, and even how serious it is about the cloud business. That’s why the company recently named former VMware chief executive Diane Greene to head its cloud business.

For more on Google, check out the following Fortune video:

For more from Barb, you can follow her on Twitter at@gigabarb; read her Fortune coverage at fortune.com/barb-darrow; or subscribe via her RSS feed.

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