April 8, 2008 — Google (google.com) announced on Tuesday it has launched its App Engine (code.google.com/appengine/) service, which enables developers to create Web applications that can be hosted on Google’s own hosting environment.
The idea of this tool which creates a hosted development environment is certainly not a new one. Salesforce (salesforce.com) has been offering its on-demand application sharing platform, Appexchange, since early 2006. Many other companies, including British Telecom (bt.com), have also offered similar services.
However, there is one distinguishing feature of Google’s App Engine: it is 100 percent free.
Launched as a “preview release,” the App Engine platform does not include all the expected features of the service since they have not all yet been completed. The preview version is only being offered to the first 10,000 developers that sign up, which has already reached its limit. However, interested users can get on a wait list and Google will notify them via email when space becomes available.
The free preview service comes with its share of limitations, providing users with only 500MB of storage through Google’s Bigtable and GFS, 10GB of bandwidth per day and can only be used on CPU per day. Google says it estimates that most applications would be able to attrack about 5 million pageviews per month with the restrictions.
The new tool will enable developers to build applications on the platform and host them for free. As the website grows and increases in the number of site visitors, the platform enables it to scale to a larger hosting service for a monthly cost.
Google says the preview release services will continue to be free as it rolls out to more developers and eventually expands the features. And though it is currently limited to the first 10,000 developers, Google says it will add more slots soon.