Bob Ippolito (@etrepum) on Haskell, Python, Erlang, JavaScript, etc.

Google App Engine - Changes Everything


I had the privilege last night of going to Google's Campfire One where the Google App Engine was launched, which is basically a service that I've been secretly hoping that Google would release for the past three years. App Engine is going to change everything -- as soon as they come up with a pricing model, anyway. I'm sure whatever it is will be more than competitive with Amazon's offerings, which isn't really worth any price given that they can't keep it fully operational. Yesterday was the perfect day for EC2 to fall over again, they might as well shut it off altogether once Google gets this service into production ;)

So why does Google App Engine change everything? I don't have a lot of time to spend here but a few key points:

  • Single sign-on for Google users. Everyone with a gmail account is already registered for your service. You have no idea how cool this actually is :)
  • BIGTABLE. My god. I would've spent in excess of $100k to have access to this part of Google's infrastructure and saved money. Scaling SQL databases sucks. If you have the kind of access patterns that we do, databases designed for OLTP are simply not suitable and it's a real pain to try and make it work. The fact that schema is managed directly in the code and that schema upgrades look awfully painless is a huge extra bonus.
  • Works locally, deploys globally
  • Python and WSGI!
  • No more going to the data center, provisioning bandwidth from telcos, etc.
  • Payment is surely coming. No more PayPal or Verisign or whatever.

In the same way that Google Apps (and Mac OS X) have enabled people to run without IT departments, Google App Engine is going to let them go big without an ops department. With the current imposed limits I can't prove this theory at Mochi Media, since everything we do is beyond the scale of their current quotas, but maybe I'll allocate some of my "infinite spare time" to ditch this Wordpress crap and try it out for my blog while they sort that out :)

The minus is that this project is actually probably pretty horrible for open source. Yahoo and the rest of the Hadoop team have their work cut out in making that stack competitive with this. If they don't, Google is going to own scale for a while. While MySQL and PostgreSQL still have some years left in them as people learn how to write scalable apps, I can't see that model lasting very long now that you don't have to be in Google's employ to use better solutions to the data problem.