Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Would You Trust Google App Engines?

I have to say, after preparing a long and exhaustive post on Google App Engine for InfoQ, one of my remaining takeaways is that in order to make good use of App Engine, you've got to be willing to trust Google.

To a certain extent, that's true of most software-as-a-service. If Google decides to terminate GMail, or goes out of business, that's going to do serious damage to my ability to communicate with the world, which is a little scary. At the same time, that's mostly relatively personal, relatively low-consequence items. I'm not saying I'd be happy if GMail went down, far from it, but I'd survive it.

On the other hand, if I built my startup in Google App Engine there are so many things out of my control that can happen, not the least of which is that Google could increase the cost of the service significantly, and notify me, and it wouldn't be incredibly easy to take my app and host it elsewhere.

That's not true of most web applications, which can be hosted at any compatible hosting provider, of which there are usually many. So you are, to a certain extent, locked in to the Google infrastructure, which provides you benefits, but comes at a cost.

That's not necessarily a deal-breaker, especially when compared to the cost of hosting an application yourself and managing it to scale, but it's something that any adopter has to seriously think about.

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