Google is changing what it calls preview versions of its Cloud Platform products, a move it says is designed to add "transparency, speed, and simplicity" to its release process.
"Going forward, all products will be pre-released in Alpha format for testing by a select group of customers, and after passing this phase, will be released to Beta testing," Google project manager Tom Kershaw said in a blog post on Friday.
That's right, Alpha and Beta. Seems logical enough, does it not?
At least, the new terms are a lot more telling than what Larry and Sergey's minions used to call their releases. The Beta phase was known as a "preview," while Alpha-quality products were said to be in "limited preview," which didn't really tip customers off to the fact that the code could easily blow up in their faces.
More to the point, customers who build applications on the Google Cloud Platform tend to have Alpha and Beta phases for their own code, but it could be hard for them to judge the true quality of their applications when Google wasn't using the same terms for its underlying platform.
In the Google Cloud world, Alpha is a limited, invite-only test period. Alpha products are described as "far enough along that customers can actually use them," but the Chocolate Factory doesn't promise any particular service level or even to support the tech.
There are no service or support agreements for Beta products, either, but their code is more mature and they're available to whoever wants to try them out, often with charges waived. They will be feature-complete, Google says, but may have "open outstanding issues."
A third type of testing involves a small group of customers who work closely with Google during the actual design and implementation of new products. The online ad-slinger is similarly changing the name of this program, from "Trusted Tester" to the more mundane "Early Access Program," or EAP.
This being the cloud, Google has but to flip a switch to make these changes effective across its portfolio, and it has done so – Kershaw said the new program names are in use effective immediately. ®