Well Done Google App Engine, Congratulations Python!
Posted by Bob Warfield on April 8, 2008
Note: This is a quick “just the facts, ma’am” post to get the info out. I’ll follow with deeper analysis later.
I am watching the Google announcement courtesy of Scoble’s Qik Channel. First, I want to thank Robert Scoble and mention that this real time connection for the uninvited is awesome. It has huge ramifications for the way businesses communicate. But the Scoble and others have been trying to tell us that for a while. This is just the first one I plugged into where something I really cared about was happening. Second, the medium was Qik, as filmed with Scoble’s cellphone. I hate to think of the security and privacy ramifications, but puttin that aside, it actually worked unbelievably well. The biggest issue is that it crashed a lot because Scoble is so popular and this is such a big announcement.
On to the scoop!
What Google is announcing they call Google App Engine. It consists of the following “stack”:
1. Scalable Server Infrastructure
2. Language Runtimes: Python will be the first language they support, others will follow. In terms of frameworks, it is largely Django focused, but will also support EZT, Cheetah, ClearSilver, Quixote, Django and CherryPy.
3. SDK: So you can code your app locally
4. Web admin console: This is how you manage your operations, although most of it is automated.
5. Data Store: As widely expected, this is BigTable, not SQL.
In terms of the problems Google means to solve for their “customers” it consists of the following:
1. They’re all about running web applications. This is not a platform for scientific grid computing or massively scalable search engines (chuckle). Hand them an URL to your (Python) code and they’ll suck it in and serve it up.
2. They want to own the whole lifecycle. That means request logs, app logs, running the DB, pushing new versions out, the whole workflow linking your development to operations and delivery.
3. They’re providing access to the same infrastructure and building blocks Google uses for all its apps:
– Google accounts: This is big. I have said before Amazon needs to deliver an identity system, and preferably based on OpenID. Google has it.
– GFS: Google file system, their Amazon S3 equivalent.
– Other Services such as E-mail
4. Costs. It isn’t free, as Dave Winer and others suggested, but it starts out free. You get 500 MB of free storage, 200M cycles/day of CPU time, and 10 GB bandwidth up and down per day for free. This let’s startups develop on the platform and pay when they start to get traction.
How do I sign up?
The first 10,000 on a first come first serve basis can join the beta test. Be on the lookout, possibly here.
A few brief observations:
– This is a great collection of functionality, and it is a step beyond what Amazon has offered. They’ve moved higher up the stack by providing first class language support, albeit for Python only initially, rather than just raw virtual machines.
– Many likely lament that it is limited to Python. That’s to be expected from Google, but it is temporary. Other languages will be supported. Not sure what this may mean for a small outfit like Heroku, which does something similar for Ruby on Rails, but I have a hard time seeing Google not doing Ruby.
– The Cloud Computing timetable just ratcheted the bar up a notch. The arms race has begun. I’ll stick to my 2 year timetable before entry of new players will be impossible. Google has just raised the bar on what you have to get done in the 2 years. Others may raise the bar futher. Refer to my post on how these layers will unfold to understand how best to dance among the elephants without getting trampled. Seems I foretold the desirability of moving up the stack to languages next!
– The ball is in Amazon’s court. They have a lot of momentum, but they will finally have to offer something beyond what they already built for their existing business if they want to keep up with Google.
– Salesforce.com: You may have bested Hasso Platner in your recent debate, but Google App Engine does exactly what Force.com does. Both are front-end web app platforms, neither are batch processing transaction-intensive platforms. Mr Benioff, your pricing model was already untenable, but Google just blew the bottom out of your boat. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better!
And finally, well done Google! And congratulations Python! App Engine is good for both!