How Snapchat made a leap of faith by building atop Google cloud services

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This post was corrected at 12:16pm to correctly identify the Google services used by Snapchat. It is using Google App Engine.

Building out the infrastructure for Snapchat was an act of faith, according to co-founder and CTO Bobby Murphy. The company, which apparently was so easy to build that a Facebook engineer took two weeks to mock up a similar service, operates on Google’s (s goog) App Engine. That’s a notable choice in a field of startups that have chosen the more popular cloud services provided by Amazon Web Services (s amzn).

But Murphy likes App Engine, he said in a recent phone conversation, and he believes Google is scaling out and willing to invest in this platform. He prefers some of the features for Snapchat’s purposes and believes when it comes to scale, Google could offer more than AWS for his application. The details behind his consideration will be the focus of Murphy’s chat onstage at the Structure conference occurring June 19 and 20 in San Francisco.

So if you caught Murphy’s appearance on The Colbert Report and want to learn more about the infrastructure and the economics of scaling out an app with 150 million photos uploaded daily, then register for Structure.

Murphy’s is one of several developer-focused talks we’ll have this year as we try to draw more attention to the fact that building out applications on massive cloud infrastructures requires a change in thinking. It’s not just about learning how to build an application in the cloud, but also mandates a strategic approach regarding how to architect your applications in a way that takes into consideration to the economics of hosting them on someone else’s infrastructure.

We’ll have conversations with Cory von Wallenstein, the CTO of Dyn, focusing on how to build a process for evaluating and changing your architecture without disrupting your existing users. There will be another with Gleb Budman, the co-founder and CEO of Backblaze, and Adrian Cockcroft, cloud architect at Netflix, about building hugely scalable infrastructures in the face of serious logistical obstacles.

Structure 2012: Aditya Agarwal – VP Engineering, Dropbox, Adrian Cockcroft – Director, Architecture, Netflix, Alexei Rodriguez – VP of Operations, Evernote Corporation, Jonathan Heiliger – General Partner, North Bridge Venture Partners

Six-and-a-half years ago when we started thinking about our first Structure event, it was a hard sell. People didn’t understand what cloud computing was, nor why a small technology blog would want to build a conference around web infrastructure. Our advertising team got questions like, “You want to hold a show on servers? Why?”

But we knew that just as the printing press changed the distribution of knowledge, the emergence of cloud computing, web-based services and even mobility would change how we disseminate information all over again. And in the process it would create new economic opportunities and change the way the world works.

However, that first Structure conference was about building that vision, not about the servers. If we were around back in the 1400s, we’d hold a gathering at a local tavern not about paper, but about the coming revolutions promised by that technology and and maybe even looking forward to the creation of the novel and widespread literacy.

So make sure you are in the audience at this event so you can predict how the future of the web is changing; not just how infrastructure has evolved, but how we’ll build businesses on top of it. Register here and we’ll see you in June.

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