On January 2008 I wrote a blog entry about Google’s Android and Social Network API’s under the title ‘Developer is King’ . Recently a friend directed me to Google’s new initiative : Google App Engine . Google is actually not the first to provide and host a network based solution for developers, a well known solution is Amazon S3. But while Amazon provides Web Services for storage, payment and others, Google actually took this a step forward – Google is taking this way beyond Web Services and provide a full blown Application Engine running on top Google’s monstrous infrastructure.
I think this is quite ingenious on Google’s part, they provide a fully hosted application environment, allowing developers to enjoy Google’s infrastructure for storage, load balancing and scale, authentication and various other API’s. Google’s MapReduce and GFS probably serve as an infrastructure together with their monitoring, and hosting technologies.
Each application is running in it’s own secured Sandbox allowing distribution between multiple servers and distributed web requests. Currently only Python programming language is supported, but assuming this takes off more are likely to be supported.
This move on Google’s part should attract application developers to use Google technologies as well as create an eco-system around Google web technologies. This is a bold move that will probably take a while to mature but if you’re a web application developer this is certainly something to look at.
Thinking back, it was Larry Ellison, the legendary CEO of Oracle, who coined the term Network Computer (NC) in the mid 90’s, while the initiative itself did not really take off it created a lot of buzz that later lead into ‘thin clients’. If Google will play this right, thin applications will emerge : applications that take into consideration their distributed and scalable nature, without worrying about the complicated setup, storage and hosting environments.
While it’s hard for me to know how strategic it is for Google internally, and how they intend to push this, if at all, I think this could make a difference in the constantly evolving computation world. I can only bow to what Google as a software giant is trying to push. If I were Microsoft I would do some serious thinking, mostly since .NET – Microsoft’s leading environment is severally lacking an application engine, but I will leave that for a later post…