For those of you who haven’t been following Google’s updates to App Engine, I want to call your attention to a number of recent announcements. At the six-month point of the beta, I asked when App Engine would be enterprise-ready; now, as we come to almost the year mark, these announcements show the progress and roadmap to addressing many of the issues I mentioned in my previous post.
Paid usage. Google is now letting applications grow beyond the free limits. You set quotas for various resources, and pay for what you use. I still have concerns about the quota model, but being able to bill for these services is an important step for Google. Google intends to be price-competitive with Amazon, but there’s an important difference — there’s still some free service. Google anticipates that the free quotas are enough to serve about five million page views. 5 MPVs is a lot; it pretty much means that if you’re willing to write to the platform, you can easily host your hobby project on it for free. For that matter, many enterprises don’t get 5 MPVs worth of hits on an individual Web app or site each month — it’s just that the platform restrictions are a barrier to mainstream adoption.
Promised new features. Google has announced that it’s going to provide APIs for some vital bits of functionality that it doesn’t currently allow, like the ability to run scheduled jobs and background processes.
Release of Python 3.0. While there’s no word on how Google plans to manage the 3.0 transition for App Engine, it’s interesting to see how many Python contributors have been absorbed into Google.
Speaking personally, I like App Engine. Python is my strongest scripting language skill, so I prefer to write in it whenever possible. I also like Django, though I appreciate that Google’s framework is easier to get started with than Django (it’s very easy to crank out basic stuff). Like a lot of people, I’ve had trouble adjusting to the non-relational database, but that’s mostly a matter of programming practice. It is, however, clear that the platform is still in its early stages. (I once spent several hours of a weekend tearing my hair out at something that didn’t work, only to eventually find that it was a known bug in the engine.) But Google continues to work at improving it, and it’s worth keeping an eye on to see what it will eventually become. Just don’t expect it to be enterprise-ready this year.