Google's latest enhancement to Cloud Platform is not a new feature but a repackaging of an existing innovation. But it's a downright useful offering all the same.
Cloud Launcher is a gallery of applications that can be deployed to Google Cloud Platform with one click. Many of the offered apps are courtesy of a partnership with an existing app-packaging solution, Bitnami. The service's catalog includes many commonly deployed applications, such as WordPress or SugarCRM, plus development stacks (LAMP) and stack components (Nginx, Node.js).
The blog post detailing Cloud Launcher indicates that the service is aimed mainly at admins who want to deploy VM-based applications -- as opposed to containerized ones -- but don't want to deal with the hassle of setting up a VM and then deploying an app into it. Enter Bitnami, which has been providing VM-packaged application solutions for some time.
Each package comes with an estimated monthly cost for running on Google Cloud Platform. The costs vary widely among solutions: A simple LAMP stack runs a mere $6.46 a month, but a Puppet VM is estimated at almost 10 times that much.
Given that almost all talk of virtualizing applications now revolves around containers, it seems almost regressive for Google to offer a VM-based application solution. On the other hand, containers are more of a moving target, and VMs still offer some advantages -- mainly the ability to supply an entire OS environment independent from the host.
Another possible reason for Google favoring VMs is that the infrastructures for monitoring VMs are currently a good deal more robust and well-understood than those for containers.
Google says it is working to integrate Cloud Launcher apps with Google Cloud Monitoring to allow admins to keep tabs on "cloud infrastructure and software packages in one place."