Google's App Engine service has seen a big update today with the release of App Engine 1.5.0.
Google uses a different approach than Amazon's web services where scaling is performed transparently without user input and without any need to program this manually. On the other hand it requires one to tie their application to Google's App Engine platform.
Just as Amazon started offering services similar to Google App Engine with their new CloudFormation service, Google too is a new functionality called "Backends" that allows some of the advantages offered by having running instances on Amazon EC2. Backends allow developers to launch high-memory and CPU instances of their application that run in the background for extended periods of time. One could, for example, use such an instance for generating thumbnails of images uploaded by their users constantly in the background. Such an instance would be charged on uptime instead of CPU usage. The Backends feature supports two modes of operation, resident or dynamic. While resident Backend instances will run constantly in the background, dynamic instances could launch is response to a request and shut down automatically when the task is done.
Google App Engine's Task Queue has received an upgrade, now supporting something called "Pull Queues". These can allow a Backend (or even an external service via a REST API) to pull tasks from the task queue and perform them in bulk rather than wait for App Engine to handle it automatically.
Google had recently unveiled a new storage infrastructure for Google App Engine from the old Master / Slave datastore to their new High Replication datastore. Now they have made their new High Replication Datastore the default, and have lowered the prices from $0.45 to $0.24 per GB per month.
Another rather major addition to Google App Engine, is the availability of Google Go as a new runtime for the App Engine. Google had announced an entirely new programming language back in November 2009, called Go, which was intended to be an efficient, fast to compile and run programming language. Now this language is supported on the Google App Engine as well, and in fact promises to run faster as it will be compiled to native code, unlike Java and Python, the other runtimes for the Google App Engine. An SDK for Google App Engine for Go is already available.
There are also a number of smaller updates, which you can read about here.
Also updated is the pricing model for App Engine which now falls under the following three categories:
- Free Apps: Free usage up to a set quota
- Paid Apps: 99.5% SLA and now $9/app/month over and above usage fees
- Premiere Apps: $500/ month for unlimited apps and operational support (over and above usage fees)
The usage fees can be gleaned from the App Engine pricing page.