Thursday, April 10, 2008

Google's AppEngine

Google's AppEngine was released Monday night at a campfire session at Google. Google has introduced a lot of serious applications over the years, but AppEngine may be the most important application most people will never hear about. From a developer perspective, this is huge. When I have a big idea, I am perfectly capable of writing the code to create the application. But to make that code run, I'd have to buy servers and bandwidth to run the code. I'd also have to spend a lot of time, or hire somebody to spend a lot of time configuring and maintaining those servers. Any time (or money) spent on configuration or maintenance is time that cannot be spent improving the application.

With AppEngine, Google is providing their scalable infrastructure to the common man. No longer does a developer with an idea have to worry about configuring a firewall and SAN, or worry about mundane details like Apache configuration. Developers get to write code and push it to an instantly scalable platform.

We don't know what they'll actually charge for this, but I expect it will be quite affordable, based on the prices the competition (Amazon EC2) is providing. Amazon charges 15 cents per hour for their EC2 instances, but they are not providing the same level of service that Google is providing. With Amazon, you get a virtual machine in their data centers, but you still have to configure, administer, and maintain that machine. The biggest drawback I see to AppEngine right now is that they only provide a python runtime. Python looks like a cool language, but it's not one I've had any experience with. With Amazon's additional responsibilities of configuring and maintaining the server, you also get a lot more flexibility.

Google made the announcement Monday night that 10,000 developer accounts would be made available to the first people who signed up on their website. When I filled out the form on Tuesday morning, all 10,000 accounts had been given away. A friend of mine, Kevin, was lucky enough to get into the first beta.

I look forward to my trial account!

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