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Summary:

Google offers developers its kingdom the cloud with its new Application Engine product, risking its fat margins and plopping down on the turf of Jeff Bezos and the rest of the online storage and platform competition. Continue Reading

Google, with its new Application Engine product, has taken aim squarely at the web services market — and companies from Amazon.com to Bungee Labs should be running scared. The search giant’s Application Engine allows developers to build a web application “in their garage” and then host it for free on Google’s existing infrastructure. Take that, Jeff Bezos!

The App Engine will run in the same Google data centers that host GMail, Google Docs and other online programs. Initially up to 10,000 developers will have access to the preview edition of App Engine. Every developer will be able build up to three applications, each of which will have 500 MB of storage and the CPU cycles and bandwidth to support about 5 million page views a month. All of this will be free, and when the service is out of preview Google will announce the ability to buy more storage, bandwidth and CPU cycles.


For some developers, a service like this eliminates the need for Amazon Web Services. It could also cause problems for startups such as online storage company Elephant Drive and platform-as-service vendors such as Bungee Labs. However, the App Engine does have its limits, some of which will be addressed as time goes on. For now, no files larger than 1MB can be uploaded to the site and Python is the only language supported by App Engine. Other limits include the inability to buy extra time and a focus only on web applications.

Even with limits, this is exactly the type of service Dave Winer last week, after a conversation with a pig, predicted. This type of loss-leader service gets startups in the door with Google, giving the company access to the freshest ideas and an entrepreneurial talent pool that it can tap. Kevin Kelleher called it the way Google can eat Amazon’s lunch.

He’s right, but it will come at a cost to Google in terms of its margins. Providing that kind of infrastructure isn’t free. It also will have a ways to go before it can compete with the 330,000 developers Amazon says are using its Web Services as of January.

Still, it’s a start. And it puts the competition on notice. There’s also the potential for Google to use this as an home base for its other development platforms, such as Open Social for social networks or Android for the mobile phone. A place where developers could build applications that could work anywhere would be the holy grail.

  1. actually, this is all working, completely and fully, today. All that is missing is the ‘retail packaging’. I had a chance to speak to one of Google’s OS and tools fellows, and he had me watch about 9 hours of videos – some that were for public consumption, and some weren’t. I was working as an analyst at a telecom company’s R&D lab, and that opened the door to meet these type of extraordinary people and to dive deep into these types of topics.

    There shall come a day when the idea of buying hardware, merely for the purpose of getting a web application to market, will seem as strange as….owning a unconnected PC.

    It’s all working now..just the packaging remains for Google’s retail cloud. And there are more yet to come.

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  2. [...] sure knew what he was talking [...]

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  3. FYI, it is only free during a highly selective beta period.

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  4. Great post Stacey!

    I don’t worry about Google’s margins. They know more about how to efficiently deliver web apps from the cloud than any other company on the planet, Amazon included. The architecture of App Engine is perfectly suited to that–by focusing on a language instead of a raw virtual machine they can make things a lot more efficient and much more under their control.

    More on my blog:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/early-analysis-of-others-reactions-to-app-engine/

    and:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/well-done-google-app-engine-congratulations-python/

    Cheers,

    BW

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  5. [...] sure knew what he was talking [...]

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  6. Cloud storage can never be as efficient as ‘your own optimized setup’. I have seen top tech blog sites go ‘ga ga’ over this cloud storage concept, even recommending it for startups. Has anyone tried actual implementations using S3 based online storage? Compare performance of transfers or backups using IBackup(http://www.ibackup.com) and say Jungledisk, an S3 based service; and when you try, try something significant, say a couple of GBs.

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  7. This type of loss-leader service gets startups in the door with Google, giving the company access to the freshest ideas and an entrepreneurial talent pool that it can tap — Well, access the Amazon forum and you’ll have access to the Talent pool.

    Startup founders are no dumb to give it to Google, they’ll rather pay and host it on AWS if they find Google has laid a trap.

    Amazon is an equally tough company when it comes to technology. They hold a dozen patents on AWS and they’ll punch in Google’s face if required.

    My message to Google – Don’t Fuc*ing Copy -Innovate to Lead.

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  8. @Alan

    “I had a chance to speak to one of Google’s OS and tools fellows, and he had me watch about 9 hours of videos….”

    sounds very painful. did they at least let you listen to some beethoven?

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  9. In a sense, ZOHO is already doing this !! It is quite easy to create a VB+Access style application and have it up and running if you use ZOHO creator … actually it is quite smart and fast as well

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