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Google Compute Engine: Setting Up a VM
Google Cloud Platform is one of the many cloud platforms you can use to get started with cloud computing. There are tons of services and tools at your disposal through the platform, just like you have with Amazon Web Services. You've got Google hardware and Google libraries ready for your own personal use. Before you bring out your wallet and start setting up apps on their infrastructure, you'll need to understand what you need. 

If you need fine grain control of your VMs to maximize your control and minimize costs, you'll want to use Compute Engine. There are other options, such as Kubernetes and App Engine, but this guide will detail setting up for Compute Engine. If you're a complete newbie -- no fear. This guide helps take you step-by-step from signing up to creating your first VM.

It all happens in an instance

Google Compute Engine lets you run, check up on, and manage virtual machines or VMs. You create an instance in Google Compute Engine, this is your VM. An instance is simply a simulated machine or computer. That simulated computer is running in a partitioned environment on one of Google's servers in one of Google's data centers.

The VM instance has an OS (operating systems like Ubuntu) some storage devices like a persistent disk, and networking configurations, firewalls, memory, and processing cores, just like a physical computer.

This can happen because of virtualization. Virtualization is just a process whereby a virtual machine is created on a computer and that virtualization is managed by VM software. Specifically, Google Compute Engine employes Linux Kernel-based VM software.

Setting up your first VM

This is all fun and good, but how do we go about creating a VM? With a preliminary understanding of how it works, you can now set off on your virtual machine adventure within Google Compute Engine. After mastering VM management, you'll be managing well-designed web apps in no time at all.

There are three ways you can interact with an instance. You can interact with your VMs through the Developers Console, which is the web interface for Google Cloud Platform. You can create, access, and delete through the Google Cloud command line interface (CLI). Finally, you can use the Google Python client library to change things around with your VMs with your local development environment. Any and all can work.

For now, let's concentrate on creating one through the Developers Console. It's easy to set up, everything's centrally located, and you'll only need a web browser and a Google Cloud Platform account to get it working.

Developers Console: Step by step

First things first. You won't be able to get anything done without a Google Cloud Platform account. Sign up using a Gmail account and a valid credit card. If you're just trying out be sure to sign up for the free trial which should give you plenty of free credit toward Google Cloud Platform -- more than enough to get you started.

When you sign up, you'll be directed to the Developer Console dashboard. Make sure to follow the steps to create a project. Switch to that project space. Then on the left-hand corner, you'll want to expand the hamburger menu. From there search for Compute Engine. From there, you can select "create a new instance." Click that, et voila, you're directed to the VM instance dashboard.

Create a new instance with the default settings (and be sure to select a zone near you so you can get the fastest response. This bit will be easy since the locations of zones are easy to parse out -- e.g. us-central-1).

After a few minutes, you'll have a new VM ready to go. You should be presented with a wealth of information about it. Click on SSH to open up the instance directly. You'll use Google's SSH shell to interact with it, download APIs onto it, and so forth.


Using the cloud to empower your organization or release your own applications can be quite the undertaking. In order to evaluate what you need, you'll need to tailor and tinker with possible services and products.

Google Compute Engine can be useful if you want a more hands-on experience in developing and deploying software on the cloud. Creating your first VM is the first step toward understanding the engine. To learn more, check out quickstart guides, common StackOverflow questions, and explore with some hands-on labs to get a deeper understanding.


About the Author

Tracey Sunderson is a working on her PhD in metaphysics. She's currently exploring ways for emerging technologies to improve our lives and fascinated by new technologies.

Published Monday, September 10, 2018 7:36 AM by David Marshall
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