Google App Engine: When will Microsoft field a competitor?

Google App Engine: When will Microsoft field a competitor?

Summary: On April 7, Google took the wraps off of more than many had expected: Not just a hosted database platform, but an entire hosted Web app platform, known as Google App Engine. I've heard rumors that Microsoft is readying a competitive hosted application platform.

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On April 7, Google took the wraps off of more than many had expected: Not just a hosted database platform, but an entire hosted Web app platform, known as Google App Engine.

Google App Engine, which Google announced at its CampFire One developer event on April 7, as explained by TechCrunch, looks like this:

Google's App Engine is "an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform consisting of Python application servers, BigTable database access ... and GFS data store services."

I've heard rumors that Microsoft is readying a competitive hosted application platform. But more on that in a bit....

The database component of Google's App Engine, known as "BigTable," is aimed at Amazon's SimpleDB -- and Microsoft's SQL Server Data Services (SSDS).

Or maybe not...

As Roger Jennings notes over on his Oakleaf Systems blog, Google's BigTable (and Amazon's SimpleDB) are really not a whole lot like Microsoft's SSDS. As Jennings blogged this past weekend:

"My conclusion based on the Bigtable paper and SimpleDB documentation: Bigtable's architecture and implementation have more in common with Amazon's Simple DB than either database has with SSDS ... Bigtable and SimpleDB aren't relational database management systems (RDBMSs); both resemble multidimensional indexed maps of attribute/value pairs. SSDS attempts to hide the fact that it's an RDBMS (relational database management system)."

When I spoke with Microsoft officials about SSDS at Mix '08, it was hard to get them to explain exactly what SSDS was. As I noted in early March:

"Microsoft officials were reticent to compare SQL Server Data Services to offerings from any competitors. But Gartner Vice President David Smith said the new Microsoft service was comparable to a service like Amazon’s SimpleDB."

SimpleDB, which Amazon released into public beta in December 2007, is a complement and adjunct to the company’s Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) and Simple Data Storage Service (S3). It allows customers to store, modify and query data hosted in the cloud.

SSDS is just one of a number of developer-focused hosted services Microsoft is readying. Microsoft already has announced it is working on BizTalk Services, which are workflow services that extend the company's BizTalk Server product. Microsoft also has unveiled beta versions of its Synchronization Framework, elements of which which sound an awful lot like the nearly abandoned WinFS (Windows File System).

According to one developer who said he believed Microsoft was close to fielding a hosted app platform: "A hosted workflow engine, with Microsoft's killer tools behind it, could be their big 'cloud' killer service."

Of course, the big question is when the app-platform team at Microsoft will be able to deliver a test build of a cohesive service like Google's App Engine. That team seems to have its hands full, at the moment, finishing off SQL Server 2008, as well as building out Microsoft's "Oslo" SOA infrastructure.

Anyone have more specifics -- or even educated guesses -- to share on what Microsoft is doing to compete with Google's App Engine? I'm also curious how much of this kind of solution Yahoo has in place... or up its sleeves....

Topics: Enterprise Software, Amazon, Software, Microsoft, Hardware, Google, Data Management, Data Centers, Browser, Storage

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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66 comments
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  • When will Microsoft field a competitor?

    When MS finds a way to steal the IP.
    wackoae
    • Joking right?

      :P
      quikboy
    • Like Google has?

      Oh, that's right, Google uses open source so none of their IP could have come from someplace else, correct?

      Oh wait, it is "proprietary open source" so no one has seen their code, so who knows if they have stolen someone else's IP?
      GuidingLight
    • Well, MS could like to use IP to block competitors, but, this is all about

      innovation, and IP has nothing to do with that, other than to block it.
      DonnieBoy
    • Google talks a lot less and over delivers

      which psychologically is definitely the way to engage. Microsoft can't compete with that, because they just can't stop talking about themselves ALL THE TIME, then under-delivering.
      fr0thy2
      • Too much lip service...

        Wonder how much you're getting paid for kissing Google's b*tt.
        transposeIT
        • Nothing.

          How much you getting for kissing MS's?
          fr0thy2
  • Only companies without their own IT...

    use things like Google Apps. Microsoft is looking for something to generate more revenue. So they are just not in a hurry. Google apps will always be for very small companies and MS is looking for something to woo the enterprise.

    The ONLY thing Google has that MS is chasing is ad revenue.
    bjbrock
    • You have it wrong. MS will not be able to match Google on price or

      scalability. Google can build out BETTER data centers faster and cheaper than anybody else.

      The big boys will go with Google, but, the small guys will be able to simply create their own applications as well.
      DonnieBoy
      • You would understand once you give up the lie

        [i]Google can build out BETTER data centers faster and cheaper than anybody else[/i].

        No one ever said that, and there is no "general consenous" that even beleives that. (It has been mentioned early on that Google's datacenters are more likely a bit more costly then average as they rely on some custom built hardware)

        Anyhow, he is correct that this is not something the "big Boys" will go with, maybe a small one or two man business.

        The "big boys" can not afford to have their data (read: business) at the mercy of an uncontrollable outside vendor.
        GuidingLight
        • Not sure what planet you live on, but, Google is building out a pace that

          nobody can match, including MS. Of course one of Microsoft's big problems is that their engineers are forced to use Windows, which is a toad for doing anything scalable. They are also not allowed to compete with any of Microsoft's core businesses.

          Microsoft is in trouble here.
          DonnieBoy
          • Where is your supporting facts? We hear the lip

            but we see no hard data that supports your claims. Otherwise it is just a busload of lip service.(And I do not mean some noname "analyst", real facts)

            I see this as just another silly attempt on your part to appease yourself, as it looks as though Google may be in for some troubled times ahead.
            GuidingLight
          • And, just wher are YOUR facts? Where have you proved that MS can match

            Google's pace???? Where have you proved that MS can do it as cheaply as Google????

            Open your eyes and look around. Google is in overdrive, and MS is stuck in first gear with a toad operating system.
            DonnieBoy
          • DonnieBoy, GL can't open his eyes

            He's hanging on Microsoft's every press release ... and STILL trying to talk up Vista ... LOL
            fr0thy2
          • I've been reading this type of comments from ABMers for too long...

            "Microsoft is going down. [Competitor name here: Linux, Google, Apple, etc.] is going to kick their b*tt." Don't hold your breath though. Cause it's been decades and MS still earns billions.

            Well, if being stuck in first gear gets my company billions in revenue, then you're welcome to weld that gear in place man.
            transposeIT
          • You should see the size of the data center MS

            is putting up in Iowa (of all places). The thing is HUGE!
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • And, Google is already building in Iowa too.

            http://www.google.com/datacenter/councilbluffs/

            MS is being left in the dust.
            DonnieBoy
          • Nope, they put the project on hold.

            Your news is old and out of date. Sort of like your posts.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • And, why did you not give any links? Both for the MS facility in Iowa, OR

            the supposed cancellation of the Google facility in Iowa????

            Come on, the links.
            DonnieBoy
          • Of course its huge

            If you're running Windows you are gonna need a LOT of load balancing and redundancy.
            storm14k