I am a big fan of my friend Jason Haley‘s blog where he posts “Interesting Finds” on a daily basis – always highlighting good reads on many topics relevant to me and so many other developers, architects, and entrepreneurs out in the real world – especially those of us who want to still be relevant next year (and the year after). Some of the areas highlighted are “hard core” topics like Mobile, Web, Database, .NET, and Security; “soft skill” topics like Career, Agile, and Business; and, of course, my favorite: Cloud Computing.
As I was working through the Interesting Finds: June 23, 2011 posts on Cloud Computing I drilled into one from the Official Google Enterprise Blog titled Businesses innovate and scale faster on Google App Engine. It is a very well crafted post which includes some great customer quotes and a couple of videos. I must say, it does a great job of promoting the value in the Google App Engine (GAE) platform, essentially as mini-case studies. Well done!
What struck me as particulary interesting about this post, however, is the types of benefits the GAE customers say they value:
- The first embedded video features Dan Murray, founder and managing director of a cloud-based SEC-filings company called WebFilings. Mr. Murray mentions they needed a platform that would be secure and would support rapid growth. He goes on (at 1:50 into the video): “Google App Engine provides a platform that takes the infrastructure management off of our hands, we don’t have to worry about it, so it’s easy for us to build and deploy apps. For us right now it’s about execution and making sure that we’re scaling our business, while App Engine provides the ability to scale the technology and platform.”
- The second embedded video features Jessica Stanton from the famous Evite event invitation site. Ms. Stanton mentions (at 0:52 into the video) “the things that App Engine especially desirable for us are the autoscaling and … monitoring systems” that Google provides. Near the end (at 1:12 into the video) she emphasises: “the opportunity that App Engine has afforded to us is more time to do what we need to do. To just get things done and to get new features out and not have to worry so much about load and things going down because we take on 16-18 million unique users a month. It’s really nice to see instances spin up and come down and we never had to touch anything.”
- Quote from Gary Koelling of Best Buy: “… we don’t have to spend any time doing system administration or setting up servers, which allows us to focus on the development and testing new ideas.”
The funny thing is, the benefits touted are really the benefits of Platform as a Service (PaaS). These services could just as easily have been built on the Windows Azure Platform!
- Mr. Murray from WebFilings mentioned the need for a a platform based on a great security infrastructure. Both Microsoft and Google have some of the industry’s best and brightest working for them in their state-of-the art, world-class data centers. Here are some good resources relating to security in the Windows Azure data centers. If you want a secure data center and secure platform, I don’t think you can go wrong with either Microsoft or Google. (Frankly, I expect you are more likely to have problems – including with cost and security – if you roll your own data center. Your company will not have the top experts in the world on your payroll.)
- Both Ms. Stanton from Evite and Mr. Koelling of Best Buy emphasize that they benefit from being able to focus on building software – and not being distracted by needing to worry about infrastructure. This is what Platform as a Service (PaaS) is all about. Both Microsoft and Google offer PaaS. GAE supports apps which run on the JVM (e.g., Java) and apps written in Python. Windows Azure supports programming in any .NET language (e.g., C#), plus a plethora of other platforms that run on Windows – PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, C++, and so many more. GAE has database support with a query language they call GQL, and Azure has SQL Azure which supports the regular SQL you know and love. Each platform has other features as well, making it a place where you can focus on your app – not your infrastructure.
- Ms. Stanton mentions that they have a team of 5 developers. I wonder how large the Evite team would need to be if they were not running on PaaS?
Mr. Murray from WebFilings mentions that they began using GAE back 2008 – and the Windows Azure Platform was not announced until late in 2008 (at Microsoft PDC in November 2008), so that was not an option yet for them. It is not mentioned when the other companies began to use GAE. If they were starting today, I wonder how many would choose Azure?