Java: Coming Soon to Google's App Engine

google_app_engine_logo_wtxtGoogle (s GOOG) will soon announce comprehensive support for the Java programming language on its Google App Engine (GAE) offering. We are trying to get more details. Rumors of such a development emerged last year, but we can now confirm that it is going to happen. We have have confirmed the news and expect the announcement later this spring, perhaps at the much-vaunted Google I/O event on May 27-28th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

What does this mean? GAE currently is a Python-only app hosting environment and Java has been one of its most-requested features. Google’s support would help Java hosting get a mainstream push. Thus far most people have pushed PHP, Perl or Rails-related hosting services. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google uses a variant of its own Java VM, code-named Dalvik, which is currently being used in Android and Google Mobile OS. Dalvik is a non-Sun-licensed Java environment.

With this Java support, Google can actually turn GAE into the cornerstone of all Android-related apps in addition to getting traction as a platform for many custom enterprise apps written in Java. But in order for all that to happen, Google would have to kick off with what has to be more than just a very barebones environment.

Even in its basic installation, Google should offer a Java environment that can be leveraged by Android app developers, who can host their apps off the GAE. An integration with Google Voice API would make the App Engine even more useful, as app developers could start building special apps for, say, Google Android-based netbooks and have them run off the Google App Engine.

Most importantly, our developer friends believe that it would be good for Google to integrate this GAE-based Java environment with the Eclipse development environment. Google announced its App Engine in May 2008 and quickly attracted about 150,000 developers. However, many developers seem to prefer the more flexible Amazon Web Services (s amzn), which recently started supporting the Eclipse development environment.