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Google Previews App Engine 167

Posted by Zonk
from the what's-not-to-like dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is giving a handful of web programmers the opportunity to create and run their own Web applications on their servers. Today's launch of a preview release of Google App Engine signals a new era of collaboration with third-party software developers. 'The goal is to make it easy to get started with a new Web app, and then make it easy to scale when that app reaches the point where it's receiving significant traffic and has millions of users," said Google product manager, Paul McDonald in a blog post."
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Google Previews App Engine

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  • New Acronym (Score:3, Funny)

    by AccUser (191555) <mhg&taose,co,uk> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:20AM (#22999298) Homepage
    GAPE - Google App Engine
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:21AM (#22999304)
    It looks very similar to Amazon's EC2 [amazon.com] hosted server service. They even have a simplified database system much like EC2. That in itself is enough to scare a lot of people away due to the pain of future migration.

    However, the free 500MB worth of storage is really attrative for anyone who wants to try a few things out online. I wish it supported more than Python, but they say they are working on it now. Getting a few more programming languages supported will make this much more flexible.

    I'm signing up for a block. Who knows what I'll do with it. But at no cost, what do I really have to lose?
    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:26AM (#22999366)
      If it's anything like Photoshop Express, you have all the rights to your code to lose (even with their revised EULA). If it's anything like the rest of google's services, you'll have to accomodate text ads.
      • by *weasel (174362) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:35AM (#23000112)

        6.3. Except as provided in Section 8, Google acknowledges and agrees that it obtains no right, title or interest from you (or your licensors) under these Terms in or to any Content or the Application that you create, submit, post, transmit or display on, or through, the Service, including any intellectual property rights which subsist in that Content and the Application (whether those rights happen to be registered or not, and wherever in the world those rights may exist). Unless you have agreed otherwise in writing with Google, you agree that you are responsible for protecting and enforcing those rights and that Google has no obligation to do so on your behalf.

        8.1. Google claims no ownership or control over any Content or Application. You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in the Content and/or Application, and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying the Content on or through the Service you give Google a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such Content for the sole purpose of enabling Google to provide you with the Service in accordance with its privacy policy. Furthermore, by creating an Application through use of the Service, you give Google a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such Application for the sole purpose of enabling Google to provide you with the Service in accordance with its privacy policy.

        8.2. You agree that Google, in its sole discretion, may use your trade names, trademarks, service marks, logos, domain names and other distinctive brand features in presentations, marketing materials, customer lists, financial reports and Web site listings (including links to your website) for the purpose of advertising or publicizing your use of the Service.

        Terms of Service [google.com] and Program Policy [google.com] (afaics, just the usual hosting rules: no porn, gambling, piracy, spam, malware, hate speech, etc).

        Also, adwords are pretty much 'Step 1' in trying to cover hosting costs for a fledgling webapp.

        If all Google wants in return for free-ish hosting is something most people do anyway, I'd imagine most people won't blink.

        If nothing else, I'd imagine many niche discussion boards will transition to GAPE in short order, once vBulletin is ported.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hpoul (219387)

          If nothing else, I'd imagine many niche discussion boards will transition to GAPE in short order, once vBulletin is ported.

          hmm.. with that prediction i should probably start porting my django forum [sphene.net] to GAPE .. at least it is already django and python .. so i would "only" need to support the database backend ? great :)

    • by Tyball (139432) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:27AM (#22999368)

      It looks very similar to Amazon's EC2 [amazon.com] hosted server service. They even have a simplified database system much like EC2. That in itself is enough to scare a lot of people away due to the pain of future migration.
      It's actually nothing like EC2--EC2 is a virtualization platform. You run an entire machine image of your choice on Amazon's infrastructure, and there's no explicit persistent storage except through the Ec2 interface.

      Google's offering is more like a web framework hosted on Google's servers. Much different.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by severoon (536737)
        Sounds to me like Google is betting people just want the end result of having the app available without all the headache of administering a server, virtual though it may be. It's a fair bet.
        • by rtb61 (674572)
          Google of course is also trying to create a layer between it's obvious privacy invasiveness and hiding it behind someone else's name and application. So whilst the end user thinks they are avoiding googles privacy invasive policies by using someone else, in reality somewhere buried in the fine print, it is googles 'right?' to own their private lives.

          Google is starting to feel the pressure of the shift in the general public's perception of digital privacy rights and is basically looking for ways to squirm

      • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:23PM (#23006736)
        >It's actually nothing like EC2--EC2 is a virtualization platform.
        >You run an entire machine image of your choice on Amazon's infrastructure,
        >and there's no explicit persistent storage except through the Ec2 interface.

        It is geared towards solving some of the same problems as EC2 and S3 (how to deploy scalable web sites without having to build and maintain your own datacenters); however, it takes a different approach.

        EC2 and S3 make you design your web stack from the ground up, choose your operating system, etc. They also let you run whatever kind of task you want, including stuff that runs in the background.

        In contrast google app store limits your options, and provides it's own web framework, but is probably easy to get started with since they already handle things like load balancing for you, and starts your service up on a new machine if one crashes automatically, etc.

        A lot of people have noted that you have to use python to develop, and that is one way that it lacks the flexibility of amazon's offering, but it is by far the least important! Google will doubtless add support for things like java and ruby in the future, as for them it is just an issue or wrapping an API.

        The biggest concern that most people are missing is that this is a essentially a really big web server that they are letting you put your software on, and *just* a web server. From "http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/whatisgoogleappengine.html":

        "when an application is called to serve a web request, it must issue a response within a few seconds. If the application takes too long, the process is terminated and the server returns an error code to the user."

        That means you can perform *no* computationally expensive operations on their service. Most interesting web applications don't just process web requests, they use data that has complicated processing done as part of batch tasks. Internet search is the best example of this. It's not enough to have a database with the whole internet in it, you also need to generate an index, and that is an incredibly expensive batch job that must run on an enourmous cluster. That means if you wanted to implement something big like search on google app engine, you would need to roll your own cluster and then upload your stuff to google, *over the internet*. This is not practical because the terabytes of data involved may be quick to transfer across a lan in a data center, it will take a long time to transfer them across the internet...

        In comparison, amazon will let you use the same service and data store both for interactive web applications, and backend batch processes. You could theoretically reimplement google search on top of EC2 and S3, but probably not on top of google app engine.

        That said, I think that google is going to kick everyone's ass in this space in the long run. Google hasn't come out with every feature necessary for building big apps without having to worry about scaling, but for the features they have implemented, they've done it right, making it much smoother for the developer by handling administrative tasks. In comparison amazon's efforts give you all of the primitive tools you need, but then require you to roll a lot more of your own code.

        When they get around to letting external developers run mapreduces (http://labs.google.com/papers/mapreduce.html) and similar long term distributed tasks by paying for CPU usage, they will have the opportunity to move into this space in a big way.

        Aside from that, they need to provide better tools to migrate existing web apps to their service. Most people aren't going to write something serious for google from scratch, but might be willing to port an existing app that is facing scaling issues to explore cost/benefits of google's service. Right now, porting is much easier with EC2 since you can just image your existing servers and build on that.

        Google needs to provide:
        1. Some kind of language independence. Right now, it sounds like (although I do not kn
        • by kylehase (982334)

          deploy scalable web sites without having to build and maintain your own datacenters
          In other words, they took all the fun out of deploying scalable web sites.

    • by klenwell (960296)
      But at no cost, what do I really have to lose?

      Well, if it's anything like some other Google sites, your entire site, if (after a couple years or so) they decide to change their terms of service:

      http://lastgoogle.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

      That said, I'm looking forward to trying this out. But I'm not planning to use it for anything I consider too important or can't keep mirrored on my own system. Be careful.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by GXTi (635121)
      It's not really like EC2 at all. EC2 gives you a big fat slice of CPU, RAM, and disk - it's like renting a server. A beefy one.

      GAPE (adopting the acronym from AccUser) is just a glorified virtual host. Not that it's a bad thing; that might be exactly what you need. EC2 is really more about computing power than the ability to serve up some webpages.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pubjames (468013)
      I don't think it is at all like EC2. This looks like it is going to be a complete application development environment for web apps. EC2 is just a way to deploy servers online for whatever you want.
       
    • by samkass (174571)
      I'm signing up for a block. Who knows what I'll do with it. But at no cost, what do I really have to lose?

      All the available blocks are now taken in their pre-release test. Much like Apple's iPhone developer program, they're now putting folks on the waiting list but you can download the SDK in the meantime.

    • by cascadefx (174894)

      They even have a simplified database system much like EC2. That in itself is enough to scare a lot of people away due to the pain of future migration.
      I wonder if you designed your app so that it separated out the database interactions, would it buy you the ability to migrate away from Google app engine? Wouldn't you be able to just re-implement that particular layer?
  • Obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buruonbrails (1247370) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:23AM (#22999336) Homepage
    I for one welcome our new Google Cloud Computing overlords!

    Jokes aside, if done right, this thing can bring Google to the position of total control over a large part of the Internet, which is a bit scary, to say it mildly..
    • by MikeRT (947531)
      What will be interesting is to see how far Google will go to "not be evil" with this. Will they allow open source developers to reimplement all of their APIs and distribute them? How about if Amazon provides a compatibility layer to allow Google App Engine software to run on top of their offerings. That'll be the test to see how scary Google really is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 42forty-two42 (532340)
        They've actually released an open-source (Apache-2) reference implementation of the APIs - right there in the SDK. It's not a very /efficient/ implementation, but if anyone wants to hack on it to make it usable, it's right there.
  • First off (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:31AM (#22999404)
    Implement your own GDrive - It shouldn't be to hard with 500MB of storage, user authentication, etc.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chineseyes (691744) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:36AM (#22999434)
    As a software developer and business owner why would I want to leave myself at the mercy of Google like this by being tied to their service?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mobiGeek (201274) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:49AM (#22999566)
      Because as a business owner you recognize the benefit of not having to invest in IT administration overhead?

      Because as a business owner, you recognize that Google is investing in your business by seeding your startup costs?

      Because as a software developer you recognize that leveraging the tools Google is offering (and will be adding to over time) will speed your time to delivery?
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chineseyes (691744) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:07AM (#22999750)
        Because as a business owner you recognize the benefit of not having to invest in IT administration overhead?
        So let me get this straight.. I leave myself at the mercy of google in order to save the cost of IT administration? That doesn't sound like a good business decision.

        Because as a business owner, you recognize that Google is investing in your business by seeding your startup costs?
        Startup costs? You can't be serious, both hardware and bandwidth are dirt cheap, in college (2000) between my four friends and I, we were able to start my first business using pocket money we earned from odd jobs. This is a VERY weak arguement.

        Because as a software developer you recognize that leveraging the tools Google is offering (and will be adding to over time) will speed your time to delivery? I'd love an explanation on how this would speed up my time to delivery? I took a look at the video and read the article and it does nothing that I can't already do myself to speed up time to delivery other than have hardware resources readily available. But once again I leave myself at the mercy of Google for access hardware and bandwidth. Thanks but no thanks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bogtha (906264)

          I leave myself at the mercy of google in order to save the cost of IT administration? That doesn't sound like a good business decision.

          It doesn't? So you don't use any web hosting services then, you host everything yourself? But wait, then you are at the mercy of your ISP. So do you have redundant connections? But wait, you're still hosting everything in one place, so you are at the mercy of floods, earthquakes, power outages, etc. So do you have geographically separated offices, with employees

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chineseyes (691744)
            That is a ridiculous argument you will always be at the mercy of something or someone as a business. The key is to avoid it when possible, I deal with enough middle men as it is. Why would any business owner want ANOTHER middle man that doesn't provide something that has significant value but has the drawback of vendor lockin? The positives have to outweigh the negatives and I don't see that in this situation.
            • by Bogtha (906264)

              That is a ridiculous argument you will always be at the mercy of something or someone as a business. The key is to avoid it when possible

              Yes, and my argument is that if you aren't committing significant resources to the problem, then all you are doing by avoiding reliance on Google is exchanging it for reliance on something else.

              Why would any business owner want ANOTHER middle man that doesn't provide something that has significant value

              Doesn't provide anything of significant value? Google em

            • by G-funk (22712)
              What vendor lockin? It's bloody python (and eventually java etc I'm sure) for fuck's sake. You can always go back to your own server if you like.
            • The key is to avoid it when possible

              No, the key is to evaluate the potential benefits and the potential costs, and make a choice based on what's best for your business.

              • Apparently you missed out on the "when possible" portion of that sentence.
                • Maybe he was blinded by the absolutely illogical statement?

                  you will always be at the mercy of something or someone as a business. The key is to avoid it when possible,
                  Either you are always at the mercy... or you have an opportunity to avoid it. It seems like an absolute waste to avoid something you are always exposed to.
        • by tha_mink (518151)

          Thanks but no thanks.
          How do you not see this for what it is? It's free hosting. That's it. Free hosting with some serious backing. Now it's Python, but how long do you think it's going to be before you'll be able to run J2EE apps and/or php apps? I think it's great. At the very least, it'd be a great place to keep a little development server for the ole web_devel_house. How is it bad? Why do you want to hate right away?
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:02PM (#23001304) Homepage

          So let me get this straight.. I leave myself at the mercy of google in order to save the cost of IT administration? That doesn't sound like a good business decision.

          The point about App Engine is that it's based on Google technologies like BigTable and GFS (along with a bunch of others that I can't talk about, but are equally cool). The real saving is not on IT administration but on the enormous pain of scaling up your infrastructure as the site grows.

          The IT industry is littered with companies that failed the scaling challenge and lost their advantage. Friendster is the canonical example. You really don't want to build a successful business and then see it fall over and die because you aren't equal to the challenge of resharding your MySQL databases every month.

          But wait. There are other advantages. App Engine is really a platform for Google to expose its technology to others. Scalable databases is only one part of it. There are plenty of other advantages to running on top of the Google platform. I haven't had a chance to check out the videos yet, so I'd rather not shoot my mouth off, but seriously - the stuff we have here simplifies a *lot* of annoying goop that otherwise you'd have to handle yourself (managing datacenters being only one obvious example).

          Having seen for myself what it takes to run a large, popular website at a high degree of availability, I'm pretty excited about the launch of this service (disclaimer: I work for Google but not on App Engine). It means people can spend more time writing interesting software and less time on crap like debugging database replication and figuring out the annoying parts of how to geocode Japanese street addresses - cuz we do it for you.

        • I'd love an explanation on how this would speed up my time to delivery?

          I agree. I ran through the getting started pages and didn't see anything better than http://www.zope.org/ [zope.org] or http://www.djangoproject.com/ [djangoproject.com] (competing python web application stacks).

          So, the downside is learning a new application stack and the upside is free hosting for now. This sounds like it is targeting college students who can't afford the quite minimal ISP hosting costs currently available in the market. I can't see building a business around this for the same reason that SaaS has not predominate

        • by severoon (536737)
          Actually, I think this platform could be very useful for running product demos if not products themselves. It would be trivially simple to fire off a few checks to outsource developers in Bangalore or Shanghai with some demo specs and have them quickly pound it out. Next up—someone needs to write an app that allows me to run functional and load tests on my Google App. Or will they provide that next...?
        • by tyrione (134248)

          Because as a business owner you recognize the benefit of not having to invest in IT administration overhead? So let me get this straight.. I leave myself at the mercy of google in order to save the cost of IT administration? That doesn't sound like a good business decision. Because as a business owner, you recognize that Google is investing in your business by seeding your startup costs? Startup costs? You can't be serious, both hardware and bandwidth are dirt cheap, in college (2000) between my four friends and I, we were able to start my first business using pocket money we earned from odd jobs. This is a VERY weak arguement. Because as a software developer you recognize that leveraging the tools Google is offering (and will be adding to over time) will speed your time to delivery? I'd love an explanation on how this would speed up my time to delivery? I took a look at the video and read the article and it does nothing that I can't already do myself to speed up time to delivery other than have hardware resources readily available. But once again I leave myself at the mercy of Google for access hardware and bandwidth. Thanks but no thanks.

          I'm trying to figure out how anyone can claim Google's Central/Mainframe Engine using Python is somehow something new. Is it that IBM and Akamai being some dream solution is somehow a new concept that must be embraced because it's Python? Startup costs are salaries, materials, equipment, medical benefits, etc., and the least cost is buying servers and having them hosted inside of Akamai's datacenters for a tier fee structure, based upon need. Google is realizing that it needs new ideas to sustain it's wi

      • by oliderid (710055)
        Because as a business owner, you recognize that Google is investing in your business by seeding your startup costs?

        I'm a business owner and a wel developer
        I watched the whole presentation. I failed to notice where they would help me to reduce any costs. I can already have (for free) everything I saw in this presentation (hosting excluded...And I don't pay this part...My clients do). It looks like a well balanced API, I won't certainly bash the work of those developers but there are already dozens of comp

        • by tha_mink (518151)

          I failed to notice where they would help me to reduce any costs. I can already have (for free) everything I saw in this presentation (hosting excluded...And I don't pay this part...My clients do).

          So you charge your clients for an in house development environment? Where do you do your development and testing? They are offering free hosting and you say "Except for the free hosting, I don't see where I can save money." It's free hosting...that's what it is. I don't think anyone's trying to tell you to go ahead and move over everything you've got on some server somewhere to the google engine but yo...it's free hosting. Fire off a development environment...or whatever.

    • by CBravo (35450)
      You don't. The business model is flawed.

      The only persons able to use AppEngine are programmers. As such, setting up a LAMP configuration shouldn't be too hard. You can get hosting for 6 euro/month. Basically what they are saying is: we are between the 6 euro/month line and 0 euro/month. I don't see the business advantage here.

      Scalability and performance management: they don't mention numbers. I therefore do not trust them.

      Exit strategy: I can find a lot of LAMP providers, I know of only one Google AppEngine
      • by will (6647)

        Basically what they are saying is: we are between the 6 euro/month line and 0 euro/month. I don't see the business advantage here.

        That's nicely put, but I think they're looking at a longer game than that. They're playing for a future in which application delivery is a bulk commodity. I don't just mean space - they've already demonstrated that once you've built the data centre, space is as cheap as water - but the capacity to compute and deliver.

        It's already happening, as it does in every computing medium: layers of abstraction build up to meet less expert users and more expert users create new possibilities on top of them. The kids w

      • by merreborn (853723) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @11:58AM (#23001254) Journal

        You can get hosting for 6 euro/month. Basically what they are saying is: we are between the 6 euro/month line and 0 euro/month.
        The resources google's providing here cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. The CPU limits on the cheap hosting plans you refer to give out after a few tens of thousands of pageviews.

        And those cheap hosting plans don't provide any sort of scaling. If you want to scale, you have to move to their dedicated servers, which cost just as much as everyone elses. Want to scale past a single dedicated server? You're on your own. They'll sell 'em to you, but load ballancing, database sharding... that's all on you.

        This offer is unique. There is no comparable platform on the market.
        • by CBravo (35450)
          what you describe is a very volatile use of an application: some months no use, other months heavy use. For that, it may make sense. I think, but I haven't fully evaluated AppEngine, that the applications you can make are rather limited.

          About the performance/scalability: they haven't provided any numbers on performance. You call it unique, I call it 'unknown'. They haven't given any prices either.
        • by JWSmythe (446288) *

          But, what you describe isn't all that hard..

          Been there. Done that. Have the t-shirt.

          The place in particular I'm referencing was behaving badly on one server when we got together. They were using about 45Mb/s bandwidth, and were always out of CPU and memory. Their old provider insisted that they spend a fortune on new equipment.

          We bought a bunch of commodity machines, tweaked things properly, and let it grow.

          It scaled out to sever
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      As a software developer and business owner why would I want to leave myself at the mercy of Google like this by being tied to their service?

      Who said anything about tying yourself to Google? The apps are written in Python, they'll give you an appserver to run on your own machine. How is this service tying yourself to Google any more than using any other provider (including yourself)?
      • Mostly it's a storage issue.

        Google certainly won't be licensing out BigTable anytime soon. And certainly not for small-scale uses.

        This can be abstracted away (and it SHOULD be) but most of the developers that are jumping on the GApps bandwagon here are, I feel it's safe to say, not going to bother with a proper data abstraction layer.

        That's the sorta thing that keeps them locked-in in the future.
    • It depends on what kind of things you're developing. What Google is offering here is essentially a way to integrate into their web infrastructure - you use Google accounts, your software can integrate with GMail (and likely other Google services in the future) etc. For certain kinds of web applications, it's a big plus.

      As for Google, they get many other people developing applications that will all become part of the Google ecosystem, as far as end user is concerned. I think they will keep an eye on the mo

    • There does seem to be platform lockin involved here. However, this isn't the first time developers have had to worry about porting between platforms! I think we all know the solution.

      What we need is a wrapper around S3 and google datastore that exposes a high level API that they can both support. Then, this proprietary platform suddenly transforms into a commodity.

      That said, I'm sure that isn't what google is hoping will happen. They don't want to be just another hosting company competing with all the other
  • by Idaho (12907) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:36AM (#22999444)
    This seems to be where (web) application development is heading: quick prototyping, no or hardly any deployment, storage or scalability issues. It's quite tempting, to say the least. Now compare that to the development environment Microsoft currently offers...

    If I where working at Microsoft development I'd be shitting my pants right about now (imagine pictures of Ballmer dancing and screaming "developers! developers! developers!" here). This is clearly what google's after now that they own search (and web advertising). They have been building huge datacenters for a while now, they own probably one of the largest distributed computing systems on earth (and know how to keep it up and running), *and* they own parts of the netwerk that connects it all together (fibre etc.).

    And now they are offering all web developers the ability to use this infrastructure..

    On the other hand, I do see some important privacy and security concerns here. If I owned a company, I'm not sure I'd trust all my source code, data etc. to be stored on Google's servers, which are (in my case) even in a completely different country with different laws, jurisdiction etc. Not to mention, what if I later want to migrate because I don't like the terms of service, etc. Or, what happens if you would create anything that takes off and Google decides that they like it..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chineseyes (691744)
      Or, what happens if you would create anything that takes off and Google decides that they like it.. and that to me is the killer. If someone had a really good idea and it did well whats keeping someone at google from peeking at the code and creating a competing product and snuffing that persons product before it becomes wildly profitable?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mobiGeek (201274)
        Peeking at the code? Seriously...there are an insignificant number of software applications where code is the true IP.

        Coding is never holy grail...it is a combination of the initial idea and the (often more importantly) the implementation of that idea that make or break a company.

        No business that creates an application within the currently published infrastructure of Google Apps Engine is going to have enough rocket science in it to worry about having it stolen by Google (or any competent set of developers
        • by Eivind (15695)
          This is true for most apps, certainly most web-thingamajigs.

          It's not as if Ebay or Facebook does anything that is particularily tricky to figure out how to do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheSunborn (68004)
        The same thing that prevet google from just looking at your idear and cloning it(That is:Nothing).

        But it is very very little web 2.0 software where looking at an existing implementation makes it any more easy to clone the implementation.
        Remember that google still have to do a complete and independent implementation.

        I do for example not really think that looknig at the slasthdot code, would make it any more easy for me to implement a complete clone of slashdot.

    • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:57AM (#22999638) Journal
      The SDK includes a standalone web server, so if you decide to move it off of Google's service, all you need to do is find somewhere to run that server. If you have a DNS entry for your app then you're probably a click away from moving it. Just run the dev server...

        What you get from Google is the free hosting and access to the Google hardware. It might not be long before other providers offer Google App Engine hosting - it could become a standard. It looks like Django on steroids...

      • by mattbee (17533) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @11:38AM (#23000992) Homepage
        I imagine the back-end implementations of their proprietary database system are key to any kind of performance, so I would expect Google have a long head start on anyone else hosting App Engine stuff and it'll take a lot of work for any conventional ISP to match their level of reliability (maybe - let's see how it goes :) ). I'm not biased.
      • The SDK isn't designed for any degree of efficiency - heck, all queries are a linear search over all entries in the database. Additionally, if you're using google's auth system, well, you'll be stuck. (You have the option of rolling your own of course)

        That said, the SDK is all under the apache license, so you could always dig in and optimize it to work well enough. In particular, the query syntax is very similar to SQL (actually, it's a subset of the syntax of SQL), so you could probably toss it onto a mysq
    • by sheldon (2322)
      That is an interesting perspective. As a developer who uses Microsoft products, and is always looking for new ways to architect web apps, I saw this and thought about looking at the API and thinking about ways I could abstract out some of my common tasks into services, so that I could easily build a new app without having to worry about the little trivial stuff.

      But apparently I'm supposed to be shitting my pants, because google is taking over.
    • http://silverlight.live.com/ [live.com]

      Just sayin'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by raju1kabir (251972)

      They have been building huge datacenters for a while now, they own probably one of the largest distributed computing systems on earth

      Which leads me to wonder...

      Around here (developing Southeast Asia), connectivity to the rest of the world has its good days and its bad days.

      People can either host locally, which means paying a lot, getting lousy customer service... and having good connectivity to internet users in the country, which is quite important.

      Or they can host in the US, which means paying much le

    • by cascadefx (174894)

      Or, what happens if you would create anything that takes off and Google decides that they like it..
      That's easy. Google buys your company and you have just implemented a successful Web 2.0 exit strategy. Am I right?
  • I don't need no stinking google to do that ...

    wait ...

    you meant on THEIR servers ...

    right.
  • by saterdaies (842986) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:48AM (#22999558)
    Originally, I thought that this would be a great competitor for EC2, but in reality it's very different.

    EC2 allows you to configure a GNU/Linux environment to your liking and use it almost the same as you would use a dedicated server or VPS. Google's App Engine allows you to create Google Applications. They're written in Python (one of Google's production languages) and need to be written specifically to use things like Google's Bigtable.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing. Google's infrastructure is top notch, but don't expect to try and launch the next Web 2.0 app this way. If you use Google's App Engine, your only course is independent or being bought by Google - because you'd have to rewrite so much of your app to migrate to other infrastructure. With EC2, it's decently easy to switch to dedicated servers. S3 could be replaced by a MogileFS cluster. That's much more appealing to anyone that isn't Google.

    Essentially, Google's App Engine locks you into Google in a way that EC2/S3 doesn't lock you into Amazon (in fact, some of the considerations like lack of persistent storage make it easier to move away).
    • It's inevitable -- someone will write an alternative hosting environment for App Engine applications. Google will also doubtless eventually start selling an App Engine appliance to start penetrating the enterprise market.
    • by maxume (22995) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:20AM (#22999908)
      Sort of. Apparently, you can stay pretty close to Django:

      http://simonwillison.net/2008/Apr/8/forms/ [simonwillison.net]

      I would imagine that someone will also write some code to sit between your app and database, pretending to be the data backend that Google is providing, simplifying migration away from teh Goog.
    • Google's infrastructure is top notch, but don't expect to try and launch the next Web 2.0 app this way. If you use Google's App Engine, your only course is independent or being bought by Google - because you'd have to rewrite so much of your app to migrate to other infrastructure.

      From google's page on the Google App Engine:

      Google App Engine applications are implemented using the Python programming language. The runtime environment includes the full Python language and most of the Python standard library. Although Python is currently the only language supported by Google App Engine, we look forward to supporting more languages in the future.

      At the moment, only Python is supported. Judging by Google's strong faith in Java (i.e. Android) (ps. which i approve of), one can only assume

    • by grahamd0 (1129971)

      If you use Google's App Engine, your only course is independent or being bought by Google - because you'd have to rewrite so much of your app to migrate to other infrastructure.

      Or, if you're actually building an application that even remotely needed Google-level scalability, you could write an abstraction layer for your data. If you built it correctly it would be relatively trivial to port to a different environment.

  • With their history of censorship and government complicity, I know I wouldn't. I don't even like using any of there products.

    A lot of talk is made about making web applications scalable, but in reality, you're not likely to have 200 million users overnight. Facebook and MySpace have about 50 million users a piece, and the reason that they can't scale is because everyone who works at those places is a moron. I mean MySpace runs on Windows and SQLServer, and then they wonder why they can't handle the traffic,
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Uh oh! I'm a Troll. Mental note: If you don't want to be despised, on slashdot, don't ever saying anything negative about Google or PERL.

      "Quit confusing people with facts." - Bill O' Reilly
      • by mgblst (80109)
        No, you are a troll because you run around calling everybody who works at MySpace and Facebook morons.

        Now, while I am sure they could never hold themselves up to you high levels of genius, cough cough, that does not make the morons. And running around calling people morons doesn't work in the real world, and is just plain rude here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by filterban (916724)
      Struts 1/Velocity smokes any other web-application framework out there.

      Really? You actually LIKE Struts? You have to be kidding me. Your statement may have been true 5 years ago but most of the Java industry has tried to move past Struts (including its author) and into something more testable and less verbose. Seriously, have you actually ever unit tested Struts code?

      Your code sucks.

      I love how this is the default answer. Sigh. A lot goes into supporting a million concurrent users besides "goo
  • From Google:
    The App Engine datastore is not like a traditional relational database. Data objects, or "entities," have a kind and a set of properties. Queries can retrieve entities of a given kind filtered and sorted by the values of the properties. Property values can be of any of the supported property value types.

    Say you create a successful app that really starts to take off. Are you stuck with google because the DB API will require massive rework if you want to migrate to another vendor.
    • by oni (41625)
      Well, if you're smart, you create an abstraction layer between your business logic code and the database code. Then, if you ever need to get away from google, you just have to extract the data somehow, import it into some other database, and switch out the database layer.

      And when I say "smart" I mean "unrealistically idealistic"
    • Say you create a successful app that really starts to take off. Are you stuck with google because the DB API will require massive rework if you want to migrate to another vendor.
      Which is what the Data Access Object (DAO) design pattern is for. Decoupling your application's business logic from the persistence tier is incredibly easy.
    • by hanshotfirst (851936) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:27PM (#23001626)
      Not to be Captain Obvious here, but...

      [x] Limited Language Choices
      [x] Non-relational Database
      [x] Giant, Centralized Processing resource
      [x] Said resource shared with others

      Oh, Goody! Google just invented the Mainframe.
      Where do I sign up for my timeslice?
    • Probably. Because if Google App engine is your first choice you're probably an amateur.

      But if you're good at what you do, you'd write a data abstraction layer that interfaces w/ the Google Data Objects.

      Migrating would only force you to adapt that abstraction layer to whatever platform you're migrating to.

      This is a common practice since all current RDBMS implementations do things a little differently. Right now it's relatively easy to write such a layer.

      W/ GApps it would be a little more difficult, since the
  • The future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:26AM (#22999976)
    I think this move is being mis-characterized by a lot of people. I actually think this is a very clever move by Google, and a taste of the future.

    One of the key ways Microsoft won the desktop OS wars was basically making it easy for developers to create applications for it. Google has realised that the focus for application development is moving from the desktop to the web. If they can create a system that makes it easy for developers to create web based applications, then developers are going to integrate what they develop with Google services, effectively giving Google the kind of lock-in that Microsoft had with the web.

    I don't know why people keep comparing this to Amazon's EC2. This I think is very different, both technically and strategically, and it is all about providing online developers with a rich way to incorporate Google services into their applications.
    • Startup farming (Score:3, Insightful)

      Not only that, but any startup that's built with this infrastructure would be incredibly easy for Google to buy and integrate if they become successful. If YouTube had been built with this, it would have been a drop-in replacement for Google Video. Or even better, Writely, kicking off Google's semi-recent bid for the Enterprisey market. For Google, any new online Office-style productivity apps that spring up and happen to be built with this framework will look like a Christmas present with a bow on it.
    • I agree... sorta.

      It's all about the APIs.

      If Google would leave this as-is, it's a huge flop with no real potential. It's buzz-generating, but a novelty.

      However...

      If they roll-out APIs for Search, GMail, Docs, YouTube, AdSense/AdWords, OpenSocial, etc, and they integrate these carefully with this App Engine... well.. that's a horse of a different color.

      THAT would be something to talk about.

      And THAT would be something on the order of a Next-Gen-Win32API-like-advantage.
  • by Wiseman1024 (993899) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:32AM (#23000054)
    I'm quite excited at this announcement. Basically they are offering me:

    - A system on which I can create and deploy applications that will always scale automatically, the only difference when doubling my traffic being the invoice I get by the end of the month. I don't have to deal with engineering or choosing a safely scalable application framework, looking, paying and dealing with a scalable application server, database, shared storage system (e.g. a SAN) and load balancer, run and maintain a fast network, perform backups, etc. All I do is write and run the application as I need.

    - A system where such costs (application server, database, storage, load balancing, network and backups) scale perfectly with the actual use (and presumably profit) of my application, without having to make any huge investments.

    - A system that will allow me to start for free and try it all, or just work freely for my hobby community, granting me no less than 500 MB. The competition today consists of a handful sub-par free hosts with 50 MB, a crappily configured PHP 4.3 and don't ask for speed or availability.

    - Integration with Google applications (GMail; presumably, with all of them in the future).

    - A standarized development environment based on a truly high-level, productive, modern language (not that Java business crap, but something that actually allows you to work fast and smart).

    Google hosting it? I couldn't give a damn. My applications are usually GPL, including the business ones. It's not the application what's sold, it's the development and the service, and even if it were the application, I would trust Google as much as I would trust any other host.

    The only caveat I see would be the datastore, which is not a relational database supporting SQL, but I'd have to see how good it is. At least it supports transactions, which are the single most difficult feature to implement in your own storage system. Everything else is just comfort, and when you work in Python, a language with first-class functions, builtin lists and dictionaries, list comprehensions, generators, a real object system, decent properties, operator overloading, mixins and dynamic modification of anything, and a dozen more features traditional languages such as Java or PHP couldn't dream of, I'm not worried about being able to query my data comfortably.
    • The datastore doesn't support multi-table joins. That's kind of a 30 year setback as far as database technology goes. I have been hearing more and more from scalability experts that joins are hard to scale and one shouldn't even bother with them and instead do all the joining manually in the app tier as needed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by protohiro1 (590732)
        The experts you are talking to are wrong (I worked on an app until a week ago that did huge joins millions of times a day, using oracle RAC). Joins in the db scale much better than doing joins in the app. The real issue is that some data really isn't all that relational, so a non-relational db like BigTable is very appropriate and much, much faster than a relational db. If you need to do joins in your application design you can't really do it on a non-relational db.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 42forty-two42 (532340)

      The only caveat I see would be the datastore, which is not a relational database supporting SQL, but I'd have to see how good it is. At least it supports transactions, which are the single most difficult feature to implement in your own storage system.

      Note that transactions are semi-limited - you have to loosely partition your data into smallish chunks, and any given transaction can only act within one chunk. (There's no performance penalty to having /too small/ chunks, and indeed the default is to put e

    • by pongo000 (97357)

      The competition today consists of a handful sub-par free hosts with 50 MB, a crappily configured PHP 4.3 and don't ask for speed or availability.

      Then you obviously haven't used the "new and improved" GMail interface lately. Much slower than the original, especially if you happen to use the web app for what it's for: Storing many e-mails. In fact, it's to the point where I use my GMail account as sparingly as possible.

      I think that while Google probably works hard to improve scalability, its obvious just fr

  • From the FAQ [google.com]: "Sockets are disabled with Google App Engine".

    Don't get me wrong, I think the service is really cool, and I understand that maybe sockets could be abused but... am I the only one that thinks disabling access to the net severely limits a web app?

    That said, I put myself on the waitlist. Even if I only ever use this for fun, it's worth exploring.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nijyusan (998950)

      Feel stupid replying to myself, but whatever...

      I realize that the fetch API will allow access to web services, which these days will probably cover most people's needs. I guess the only thing other than http that I often use sockets for in a web application is mail (pop/imap) and I suppose Google isn't clamoring to enable webmail competition for gmail.

      On the other hand, I don't like the idea of having to sit around waiting and hoping for Google to implement a new API every time I want access to some new n

  • by dstone (191334) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @04:38PM (#23005024) Homepage
    ...please turn off the L.A.M.P.?

    Thanks.
  • The first thing I went looking for in GQL was some kind of builtin free text search. I'd assumed that Google (being the kings of search) would have this covered, and I've yet to write an internet app that doesn't use some form of text search. I may have missed it, but I can't see it in there.

    Also, no primary keys?

    I'm guessing there may be issues adding this kind of search to a distributed database. Whatever the reason, it's a shame.
  • When I read this, it was more evidence that some in Google want to be "the internet". For very, very many, they are the gatekeepers to the web. Now, with this, they can be the hosts as well. If Google hosts a ton of applications, you can see a future in which somebody is surfing from site to site but never really leaving Google.

    So, what's to stop the extingush part? Letting Google say, hey, host here and we will make sure that your search results don't "change", or you get better results, etc. Given the dem
  • I think Amazon wins here with EC2. It sounds like Google's option might be easier to start up, but it greatly limits the buyout options down the line. VC's will prefer Amazon's EC2. If venture capitalists prefer Amazon's web services, then startups will prefer Amazon.

    Besides, persistent storage and redundancies will eventually become "easy" as following a tutorial for EC2 + S3 + SimpleDB. I haven't looked, but I expect they're out there already.

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