Why Amazon Should Worry About Google App Engine for Business

I wrote last week that the time may be right for Amazon Web Services to launch its own platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, if only to preempt any competitive threat from other providers’ increasingly business-friendly PaaS offerings. The time is indeed right, now that Google has introduced to the world App Engine for Business.

That’s because App Engine for Business further advances the value proposition for PaaS. PaaS offerings have been the epitome of cloud computing in terms of automation and abstraction, but they left something to be desired in terms of choice. With solutions like App Engine for Business, however, the idea of choice in PaaS offerings isn’t so laughable. Python or Java. BigTable or SQL. It’s not AWS (not that any PaaS offering really can be), but it’s a big step in the right direction. App Engine for Business is very competitive in terms of pricing and support, too.

Google is often is cited as a cloud computing leader, but until now had yet to deliver a truly legitimate option for computing in the cloud. Mindshare and a legit product make Google dangerous to cloud providers of all stripes, including AWS.

The integration of the Spring Framework in App Engine for Business is important because it means that customers have the option of easily porting Java applications to a variety of alternative cloud environments. Yes, AWS supports Spring, but the point is that Google is now on board with what is fast becoming the de facto Java framework for both internal and external cloud environments.

Meanwhile, in the IaaS market, AWS is busy trying to distinguish itself on the services and capabilities levels now that bare VMs are becoming commodities. Thus, we get what we saw this week, with AWS cutting storage costs for customers who don’t require high durability (a move some suggest was in response to a leak about Google’s storage announcement), and increasing RDS availability with cross-Availability-Zone database architectures. It’s all about differentiation around capabilities, support and services, and every IaaS provider is engaged in this one-upmanship.

If PaaS is destined to become the preferred cloud computing model, and if the IaaS market is becoming a rat race of sorts, why not free cloud revenues from the IaaS shackles and the threat of PaaS invasion? Amazon CTO Werner Vogels will be among several cloud computing executives speaking at Structure 2010 June 23 & 24, so we should get a sense then what demands are driving future advances for AWS and other cloud providers. For more on Google vs. Amazon and PaaS vs. IaaS, read my entire post here.