When Google (s GOOG) first released App Engine as a “Preview Release” last April, developers had relatively little computing power. Only a few apps got Google’s permission to grow beyond the free computing quotas, including BuddyPoke, Lingospot, Mentalfloss and Giftag.com. Now, the company’s going to start charging for its App Engine cloud platform. That’s welcome news for early adopters of the cloud computing platform, because even if they have to pay, they’ll now have access to the company’s vast computing resources.
Since the launch of App Engine, Google’s been collecting feedback from developers. It’s added SSL support, a status dashboard, and a memcache API, and is working on other features, such as a task queue and additional programming languages.
Google’s taken a lot of flak over the question of cloud lock-in, and Pete Koomen, the Product Manager for App Engine, says the company is trying to be as open as possible. “We want to encourage openness,” said Koomen, pointing out that there are no special hooks between App Engine and other Google services. “The more proprietary the APIs, the easier it is for developers to lock themselves in,” he said.
Making App Engine a paid service is another step toward establishing the developer ecosystem we described in December. While Google wouldn’t confirm our suspicions, Koomen did point out that it’s possible to write an App Engine application restricted to only those within your own domain. If that ecosystem prediction comes true, Google will have a platform for writing, running, and selling software to millions of Google Apps users. Think AppExchange for small and medium-sized businesses.
Here are the details on the new pricing for developers who go beyond their free quotas:
- $0.10 per CPU core hour of computing
- $0.10 per GB of inbound traffic and $0.12 per GB of outbound traffic
- $0.15 per GB of data stored by the application
- $0.0001 per email sent by the application
Google will continue to offer free accounts, although their capacity will be reduced from where it is today. Koomen said the goal is to make a “well-written” web application — that handles about 5 million page views a month — free, and for developers to pay beyond this amount.