Friday, April 11, 2008

The Rise of App Engine

Google released AppEngine, and there were a bunch of reviews comparing it with Amazon EC2. Not quite the same. From a manager's perspective who is trying to get a web project done probably yes, you can achieve the same goal in this case with both...

But, the real difference is in the level at which these are operating. AppEngine, Heroku et al are I would say at a service level. EC2 bascially lets you write what the heck ever code you want, and provides an abstraction at the machine level. Instead of running on the bare metal, you would run on EC2 and get all the goodies that come with the classic "Add another layer of abstraction" rule.

The importance of AppEngine is the productivity gain that it would bring into a very focused but large set of applications. Yes, there is no support for batch and so, lot of other cleanup jobs etc cannot be really run on the platform as of now. But, it is still in it's initial stages and too early to comment. I don't see it ever brimming with additional features though. If you have noticed with Google's products, it is not the feature set that they try to win the market with. Example: Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger kick GMail and GTalk's butt respectively in terms of feature set. But, it is ease of use, attacking the problems that matter (like spam, being able to find what you wrote, and storage size)

Also, I really don't see them ever supporting my current favorite web framework Grails. Why? Grails is tied to hibernate which I don't see running on a non relational database like the one google has as the data store of AppEngine. Not to say they are not working on a "Write your Grails, we port it to something else and run on AppEngine" virtual machine.

There have been free services that ran JSP/ASP based web applications out there for a while. But, those were more of a "write your app, run on our server" kind of model. App Engine is essentially a scalability/availability mantra for the masses. Google has enforced the scalability best practices by restricting the developers to use a subset of features which lend themselves to scaling.

On an un-related note, I could not find a way to get either blogger or feedburner to offer Tag specific feeds. I had to jump through hoops to achieve it. More on that in a later blog. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Spiritual Warrior said...

AppEngine is a good attempt, may break a leg or two of salesforce.com. Beyond that with Python, Ruby or PHP, its impact will be limited in the near future.