Android and OpenSocial are impressive initiatives, but to most developers, (or at least this one), they’re dwarfed by the App Engine Google unveiled yesterday. Android and OpenSocial are basically reactionary, parrying iPhone and Facebook. But deep infrastructure is profoundly what Google does, and for them to open their internal tools to the unwashed masses is huge.
Amazon (AMZN) has a big head start in building a cloud computing stack, having launched S3 storage in March 2006 and EC2, their cloud computing platform, last October, along with pieces like SQS and SimpleDB in between. Nevertheless, if I was Jeff Bezos I’d be nervous.
It’s nice that App Engine is free for the moment, but to the developers who are the target market, that’s not the crux of the matter. Google invented a lot of the fundamental technology in this sphere, and while public access may be new, the technology isn’t. Google has been using it to run their own applications for years, and you can’t get much more battle-tested than that.
Right now Google is offering access to Google File System (GFS) and BigTable, which let you store data and access in a simple but highly scalable way–they’re roughly equivalent to Amazon’s S3 and SimpleDB. Let’s hope future updates include access to MapReduce, the crown jewel of Google algorithms, which enables massively parallel applications. It’s what powers Google search, and is integral to being able to access enormous amounts of data very quickly.
In any case, this is great news for developers. Cloud computing is now a horse race.
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