Google Cloud Cost Optimization Best Practices

Written By

Anthony Neto


The benefits offered by Cloud computing service providers have proved attractive to a lot of businesses in recent years. For instance, the quick setup, scalability, and smooth functioning are ideal for users who wish to expand their business. However, Cloud services can be costly, especially for inexperienced users.

This article will talk about the pricing structure of the Google Cloud and discuss GCP cost optimization best practices to help you manage your Cloud costs better. 

Table of Contents

What is GCP?

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) pricing structure

Google Cloud (GCP) cost optimization best practices


What is GCP? 

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is the third largest Cloud services provider in the world, with an 11% market share of the global Cloud sector.

Google Cloud Platfform (GCP) Icon
Google Cloud Platform Logo

GCP's popularity has grown recently, but many users are still lacking the necessary know-how to drive accountability for costs across their organization.  Additionally, most users are still struggling to have a better understanding of their return on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) investments by leveraging flexible options for organizing resources and allocating costs to Departments and Teams.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Pricing Structure

The first step to optimizing your GCP costs is understanding the pricing structure. Like other providers, GCP has a transparent pricing structure with 3 primary plans.

  1. Free Tier: The free tier allows limited use of 20+ services for experimentation and exploration. You can use this to familiarize yourself with the environment and test the services. New users also get $300 worth of free credits for 90 days to explore all available services.
  2. Pay-as-you-go: Pay-as-you-go is the standard GCP pricing model that charges users depending on their usage. Essentially, services are only charged for the time they are used and, typically, the billing is on an hourly basis.
  3. Reserved: Under this plan, you can commit to using a service for 1 or 2 years at a discounted price. However, breaking the commitment within the reservation period might incur an additional cancellation fee.

Every service on GCP is separately billed, whether it be a compute instance or a storage device. Nonetheless, most new users are unaware of the Cloud service components required for a single project, e.g., setting up compute requires a storage device, network interface, and storage read and writes, each of which has a separate cost in the overall infrastructure. 

This granularity in billing often needs to be clarified for users, who may end up incurring higher Google Cloud costs than anticipated. To ensure complete Cloud cost transparency, GCP provides a cost calculator that outlines the complete cost breakdown of every service you need. 

It is a comprehensive tool that allows you to test multiple configurations of the service and get an estimated monthly cost.

Top 5 Google Cloud (GCP) Cost Optimization Best Practices

While the cost calculator provides a better picture of your Google Cloud Platform cost estimates, employing these crucial GCP cost optimization best practices can ensure your Cloud Cost management efforts are streamlined and deliver the desired results. 

1. Research Your Requirements

A common mistake among new users is jumping head-first into Cloud computing and trying to utilize the latest and best services on offer. For example, you may pick overpowered machines and lots of storage that may never be used.

The most vital GCP cost management best practice is researching the application requirements before building the Cloud infrastructure. The research would include estimating aspects such as: 

  • Average workload
  • Application's memory utilization
  • Storage requirements

GCP offers various computing machines, which vary from a few cents to several hundred dollars per hour. Selecting the appropriate service size ensures that your application continues to operate smoothly while maintaining an optimal cost.

2. Leverage Preemptible/Spot Computes

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers a unique tier of computing devices called Spot Computes (formerly preemptible compute). These are extremely low-cost machines that are up to 91% cheaper than regular VMs. 

The only downside of these machines is that GCP can deallocate the VM anytime with as little as a 30-second warning. 

Regardless, this option is ideal for batch-processing fault-tolerant jobs. If the job does not require a constant up-time and can be checkpointed to restore progress, Spot VMs are a great way to leverage high computing power at very low costs.

3. Utilize GCP Cost Optimization Tools

Understanding pricing breakdowns is a great way to analyze your Google Cloud costs, but it can be overwhelming. Without a doubt, it’s challenging to keep track of all resource utilization and make optimization decisions. Thankfully, either native or third-party GCP cost optimization tools can give you unique insights regarding spending patterns and the application's cost utilization.

Google provides native cost management tools, but third-party tools like CloudZero and Ternary are also great. These tools provide a detailed breakdown of your Cloud costs, highlight areas of interest, and provide cost forecasting and cost-saving recommendations.

4. Follow Google Cloud Platform Recommender

The Recommender is a native GCP service that analyzes various aspects of your project and provides best practice recommendations. The Recommender works on a per-service basis and provides insights for improved performance, cost, and security.

Recommenders are available for fixed workflows, such as the Virtual Machine (VM) rightsizing Recommender and Idle VM Recommender. The former monitors the VM usage and weighs it against its size. If the VM seems under-utilized, it recommends downsizing it to help you save costs. 

On the other hand, the Idle VM Recommender looks out for unutilized VMs (Phantom machines) and recommends that you deallocate them to prevent unnecessary allocation costs.

5. Set Spending Quotas

GCP cost management in large organizations where multiple users can access the services can be challenging. In most cases, excess Cloud costs are due to careless usage by untrained employees who either leave services running overnight, or over the weekend, or have multiple phantom instances running in the background. While these may sound harmless, the costs can stack up to several thousands of dollars depending on the service.

For this one, the most recommended GCP cost optimization best practice is to set spending limits for different users and roles depending on company policy. 

GCP allows granular control of user roles, and each user can be designated a certain spending limit. If the spending limit is reached, the user cannot use any service until the limit is renewed. This prevents accidental over-spendings and helps in the management of your overall Cloud costs.


A cloud-native infrastructure brings various benefits to organizations and businesses. However,  unmonitored usage can lead to unprecedented expenses, costing several thousand dollars. The knock-on effect of such high costs is the discouragement of users from adopting Cloud computing for their businesses.

For the best utilization of Google’s Cloud services, it is advisable to follow the GCP cost optimization best practices outlined above. The strategies include selecting the right-sized equipment for the project, using cost management tools, and setting spending limits to ensure your spending does not exceed a certain threshold. 

These GCP cost optimization best practices are vital for users hoping to get the most out of their Cloud infrastructure in terms of performance and ROI.

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