With Google I/O happening right now, we all knew there would be lots of new things coming from Google. We also all know how much the company wants to lead in the enterprise over Microsoft. So it should not really be surprising that they now have a business edition of their hosted application environment, Google App Engine. The question is, will anyone buy it? 

Google App Engine Two Years Ago

We introduced the Google App Engine two years ago when it was first announced at the first ever Google I/O conference. At the time of its release it was in private beta and free, designed to compete against Amazon for developer attention to host and run their web applications. 

Two years later we see the Google App Engine for Business.

Google App Engine for Business

The Google App Engine for Business offers enterprise customers a scalable infrastructure for hosting their own web applications. Currently in preview, it is open to a limited number of enterprises. What new capabilities does it offer over the free version?

  • Centralized Management: Using a single administration console you can manage what applications are hosted in your secure Google Apps domain. Using access control lists, you secure access to who can deploy new code and who can access the application data. New applications deployed into the domain are actually hosted in a subdomain, so they automatically pick up an URL (ie *.apps.example.com).
  • Access to Google APIs: Not limited to the business edition, you can develop applications in Java or Python that can access Google's services through a number of APIs.
  • Hosted SQL Databases: The free version of the Google App Engine does not include a relational database. Instead it uses its BigTable database system. But for enterprises, a relational database is a must (even Microsoft shifted to offering this capability on Windows Azure). SQL database support provides developers a fully functionally dedicated relational database without the hassle of managing the database itself. Just what databases will be supported isn't specificied.
  • SSL on Your Domain: Enterprise can add the extra security of SSL communications to their hosted applications.

Both Hosted SQL and SSL Support are still works in progress. According to Google's roadmap, Hosted SQL will be available sometime before the end of Q3 with SSL support coming for the end of the year. Both will be in limited release.

The Google Apps Engine for Business offers a 99.9% SLA plus premium developer support at your fingertips. What does it cost? Each application hosted will cost US$ 8 per user/month up to a maximum of US$ 1,000 per month. So you pay based on the number of users who access the application.

If you want to host your public website or another publicly accessible web application on your domain, you can, but the pricing for that hasn't been worked out yet.

A Partnership with VMWare

Not only will enterprises be able to develop solutions for Google's cloud infrastructure, but thanks to a new partnership between Google and VMWare, they will also be able to link their on-premise apps with their cloud-based apps, or other clouds altogether (like Amazon).

A Threat to Amazon and Azure

Google Apps Engine for Business was always a potential threat to Amazon EC2, especially when Google finally offered support for Java. But the new Business edition also may make waves for Microsoft's hosted platform, Azure.

Of course, Google Apps Engine for Business is only in preview and some of the enterprise capabilities aren't even available in preview yet, so it's going to a be awhile before that threat has any strength.

Add this news to Google's announcement of storage for developers and we see the momentum Google is building. What's next? We are watching.