Computing In The Cloud, Google App Engines

Labels: , ,

One day we will plug our applications in the computing cloud as much as we plug our devices into the electricity network. Surprisingly, this days is today!

The trend towards offering computational infrastructure(storage, processing, bandwidth, etc) as a service is gaining momentum everyday. Services like Amazon's suite (S3, SimpleDB, EC2, SQS) and now Google AppEngines are manifestations of this trend. Infrastructure is becoming a commodity and large scale operations already invented their wheels, relieving the small to mid size player from having to invent wheels of their on. Stand on the shoulders of the giants and don't bother with performance, redundancy or data center setup overhead.

I have had a look at Google App Engines. In a nut shell, App Engines is an web application environment that is capable of running a subset of Python(self). Even though there is no write support to the disk; the available features cover more than 90% of web development needs. You are able to process HTTP requests, generate response, configure your routes, persist data and query it, and connect to other web services. One of the most cunning features is the ability to authenticate google accounts, plus one to whoever lobbied for this feature. Suddenly your application will be available to millions of users with no registration overhead (defining your user count gets tricky that way though).

One of the good things about Google App Engines is the choice of the programming language. Python(self) has dynamic and functional features that may be able to one day open the eyes of those who think that annotations are the next-big-thing!. I have been coding exclusively in Ruby and JavaScript (and of course GammaScript) for a while now. I have only experimented briefly with Python(self) earlier, so this was a good chance for a refresher. And Python(self) was fun except for some syntax quirks that I am not used to yet. I hope google extends their language support to cover Ruby and JavaScript (I stopped caring about Java as a web development tool long ago but others may be interested in including it as well). But kudos to Google for starting with Python(self).

I was over joyed with the ease of deployment. I faced a minor bug in the supplied local webserver but had an easy work around. I am still working off Google's web framework and didn't move to something like Django or Pylons yet.

  • Platform comes with most of your development needs
  • Don't concern yourself with scaling, Google handles that for you, and is expected to do a very good job at it
  • Good choice for a starting language, Python(self) is a powerful daynamic language
  • Very good integration with Google accounts (brilliant!)
  • Ability to use full blown frameworks lik Django and Pylons

  • Google lock in for your applications. Imagine that Google gets complaints against your application from governments (Chinese may be), will they shut it?
  • Sandboxes tend to constrain you. (that might be a pro rather than a con, it is your ticket for scaling)
  • For some reason Guido van Rossum thinks I should use "self" as the first argument in every method definition. I have read several explanations but I have yet to find something that convinces me.
  • I have been bitten with the white spaces thing a couple times. I attribute it to my acquired style though. Should be handled with time.

All in all, a very good move from Google, to them and everyone helping making cloud computing a reality. Thank you for bringing us the future!.

I am tempted to test Heroku now. I have been claiming that I was too busy before. This is no longer an excuse.

Comments (0)