Google App Engine firing on all cylinders (and badtats)

It's IT Blogwatch: in which Google launches App Engine, predicting sleepless nights for Amazon and Microsoft. Not to mention bad gamer tattoos...

In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, Heather Havenstein hardly happens:

Google App Engine
Google Inc. launched a preview release of its new Google App Engine yesterday, touting it as a way for developers to run their Web applications on Google's infrastructure. Google App Engine is aimed at giving developers access to the same building blocks that Google uses for its own applications, thus making it easier for developers to build an application that runs reliably, even under heavy loads and large amounts of data, Google said. The App Engine development environment will include dynamic Web serving, persistent storage, automatic scaling and load balancing, Google APIs for authenticating users and sending e-mail, and a full-featured local development environment ... Every Google App Engine application will have up to 500MB of persistent storage and enough CPU bandwidth for about 5 million page views a month ... developers will be able to purchase additional computing resources as needed ... The preview version is available for free to the first 10,000 developers who sign up. more

Michael Arrington helped break the story:

[It's] an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform. It consists of Python application servers, BigTable database access ... and GFS data store services. At first blush this is a full on competitor to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers) and SimpleDB (database). Unlike Amazon Web Services’ loosely coupled architecture, which consists of several essentially independent services that can optionally be tied together by developers, Google’s architecture is more unified but less flexible. For example, it is possible with Amazon to use their storage service S3 independently of any other services, while with Google using their BigTable service will require writing and deploying a Python script to their app servers, one that creates a web-accessible interface to BigTable. more

Google's Kevin Gibbs:

In the same way that Blogger made it easy to create a blog, Google App Engine is designed from the ground up to make it easy to create and run web applications. With Google App Engine, developers can write web applications based on the same building blocks that Google uses, like GFS and Bigtable. Google App Engine packages those building blocks and provides access to scalable infrastructure that we hope will make it easier for developers to scale their applications automatically as they grow. This means they can spend less time dealing with system administration and maintenance, and more time building and improving their applications ... Today's launch is a preview release. We've got a lot left to do, and there are a lot of features we still want to add to the system. What we'd really like is to get your feedback on it, so we know which features are most important to you. more

Mike Masnick says it took 'em long enough:

Way back in 2004, we started asking when Google was going to become "the web platform," finally opening up its infrastructure to build out new and useful applications. It seemed obvious at the time that the next real battle was going to be in that space, but time and time again, Google has missed opportunities to do so, opening up a window of opportunity for other players. Surprisingly, the closest to realizing the vision has been Amazon.com with its Amazon Web Services offerings -- which was something no one would have expected back in 2004. Back then, the questions were more about Microsoft, Yahoo and Google ... So, now, finally, nearly four years later, Google has come to its senses. more

But Brady Forrest disagrees:

Though the obvious comparison is to [Amazon Web Services], they aren't really the same beast. Amazon has released a set a disparate services that can be used to created a general computing platform. The services, though they work together, do not come bundled. App Engine on the other hand is almost literally an engine for powering web applications. It bundles together many of the features that AWS offers into a singular package: storage like S3, auto-scaling and processing power like EC2, and a datastore like SimpleDB. App Engine also offers things that are not available on AWS like a Python runtime, Google-specific APIs and perhaps most notably a free portion of the service. App Engine is more like other web application platform services like Bungee Labs (similar but with its own language), Heroku (which supports Rails), or the now-defunct Zimki. more

Brian McConnell calls it, "a watershed moment":

The days of building and hosting your own servers, except for specialized applications, are officially over. This is good news. And App Engine will give everyone, including Amazon, a nice scare, which means that these companies will be forced to take a hard look at what they offer today, and what they need to do to improve it ... I don’t think it’s such a good fit for companies with legitimate concerns about vendor neutrality, access to sensitive data, etc. ... [Google’s] motto may be “Don’t Be Evil,” but given the choice between hosting at a company that also offers its own web services and a neutral vendor, I’d go with the neutral vendor. more

Mitchell Ashley ponders the competition:

Did Microsoft and Ray Ozzie's Mesh strategy see this one coming? Amazon EC2 and S3? It doesn't seem so ... Several things about Google App Engine are interesting. First, it's free. Yes, free ... capped during the beta and then charges applied once GAE goes live, but who knows when that will be given how long Google keeps its products in beta. GAE is also a Python only environment, and will likely add support for other environments soon, I would guess before any beta moniker is removed. Ruby and PHP would be two likely environments to add ... this will likely shake up much of the low end, price sensitive part of the web hosting market ... a brilliant move by Google. more

Marshall Kirkpatrick has been reading:

Nick Carr's new book The Big Switch ... outlines the history of electric power generation moving from an in-house operation of every business to its current position as a commodity produced by giant specialized power producers and sold at a metered rate. He argues that computing is undergoing an analogous process and that just as commoditized electricity changed the world, so too will commodified computing. The same industrial history has had to struggle with monopoly power, though, and that's something that has to be considered when looking at announcements like Google's App Engine ... may very well represent history's next logical layer of abstraction, taking several onerous obstacles off of the to-do list of application developers. That means developers can focus on other things and leverage greater resources than they may have had access to otherwise. Google-sized economies of scale can beat just about anyone on price and in theory it bodes well for uptime. more

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

Other Computerworld bloggers:

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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