Picture Courtesy: Paxmodept.comWhen Google released its PaaS offering called Google App Engine, it attracted Web 2.0 developers in big numbers but it didn’t gain much traction like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft platform. In fact, in May 2010, Network World had an article quoting a Forrester Survey which put the percentage of developers using Google App Engine at a meager 8.2%.

Built for hosting Web applications, App Engine services more than 500,000 daily page views, but App Engine’s 8.2 percent usage rate, based on a Forrester Research survey of developers in late 2009, trails far behind Amazon.com’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which has nearly a 41 percent share. Microsoft’s newer Windows Azure cloud service edges out App Engine, taking a 10.2 percent share. Forrester surveyed 1,200 developers, but only about 50 of them were actually deploying to the cloud.
The initial traction gained by Google App Engine was with Web 2.0 boys and newbies trying their hand with their projects. There were some serious social apps built on top of GAE but the traction among the developers was very slow as pointed out by the survey. After the initial days, Google announced the support for Java with enterprise developer community in mind. We didn’t see any large scale adoption of Google App Engine by Java developers initially. However, two things happened after that which seems to be evoking interest towards Google App Engine among the developers. 
Google announced the roadmap for App Engine for enterprises. This was the first step taken by Google targeting the enterprise market. It was followed by a partnership with VMware where they announced support for Spring Java apps on Google App Engine. They touted it as an easy way to build, run, and manage applications for the cloud, and to do so in a way that makes the applications portable across clouds. Using the Eclipse-based SpringSource Tool Suite, developers could build Spring applications in a familiar and productive way and have the flexibility to choose to deploy their applications in their current private VMware vSphere environment, in VMware vCloud partner clouds, or directly to Google App Engine.
These two announcements brought in renewed interest among developers and the announcement by Google that they will offer support and strong SLAs were attractive enough for enterprises and developers in smaller organizations to consider Google App Engine as the platform for the deployment of their apps. This trend is now confirmed by a report released by Elance, one of the top talent sourcing company, where they announced that there is a large increase (to be specific 10X increase) in demand for developers developing apps for Google App Engine. With this increase in demand, Google App Engine has even moved past Amazon Web Services as the cloud platform in demand.
The IT category however remains the top performing job category with a 44% increase in provider earnings in Q2 year over year. Fueling this growth are companies embracing cloud computing platforms and mobile devices that need to tap into highly skilled and qualified work teams. After making an entry into the top 50 skills in Q1 2010, Google App Engine, the cloud-based application development platform, showed the single largest increase in demand with over a 10x growth quarter over quarter. With this increase, Google App Engine (#37) moved past Amazon Web Services (#40) as the cloud platform highest in demand in Q2.

With Microsoft pushing hard on Azure, we are in for some good competition. If this trend holds universally, we can see that a trend towards platform services exists moving developers away from the IaaS offerings like EC2 consistent with what I say about the future of platform services. I think the next two years will be interesting to see how the market develops for platform services, in general, and Google App Engine, in particular. What do you think? Will enterprises ever take Google App Engine seriously? With today’s vFabric announcement, how serious VMware will be in their support for Google App Engine?

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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

1 Comment
  • While Azure should be my first point of call, GAE has become the first place I do things these days – because of the (lack of) cost along with scalability.

    For example, the backend services for London Bike App (http://www.londonbikeapp.com) could be hosted on AWS, GAE or Azure – or even Dreamhost, where the website is. I chose GAE because the entry point was free – AWS would cost me a lot more than the app is making (sadly), and Azure’s pricing is all over the place. Dreamhost was an option (Rails or PHP), but I wanted something that could scale with little or no interaction from me.

    Being LBA is a .NET app (MonoTouch), Azure would have been the logical place if it wasn’t for the stupid pricing.

    From my perspective, if I want full control, I can get it and pay for it (AWS), and I’m about to login to a server there to do some “day job” stuff. It’s way too expensive for personal stuff tho ($90/month or so), or things which _might_ make some money down the line. It’s also a load of work to get a webserver, database (scalable), memcache, a queue etc all running.

    I considered Azure, as I prefer C# to either Python or Java (I’m using Python on GAE at the moment, looking to move to Java or Groovy soon), but the pricing is crazy. I have to stick to MS’s API’s (like GAE), but pay for the app to be running all the time (like AWS), and the pricing is around the same as AWS. Definitely a MSFT Fail. The services/API’s are good, but they pooch-screwed the pricing (or at least the communication of it). I suspect this is so they dont “damage” the 3rd party hosting market. Typical MSFT.

    AppEngine is priced right for me, as I’m usually in the free bracket., but if I need to scale up past 1m hits a day (which, frankly, would be fantastic!) I can, easily. The API’s are good, and they clearly explain what you can and can’t do. BigTable is a bit interesting if you are only used to SQL, but it’s not that hard if you stop thinking that way. The single-button deployment is brilliant.

    So…. if Google added C#/Mono as a possible GAE language, I’d be using that in a shot. As it is, what they have is very compelling. If a company is already committed to Google Apps, it makes sense – same as Sharepoint makes sense if you have a MS environment.

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