Google is notifying administrators working with its Google App Engine (GAE) cloud platform that it will be removing the "preview" tag from the product in the second half of September.
Google first released a beta of GAE in April 2008. GAE is Google's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering that competes head-to-head with Windows Azure. GAE allows developers to create and host applications using infrastructure in Google's own datacenters. At Google I/O in May of this year, Google execs promised that GAE would become a fully supported Google product before the end of 2011.
The GAE team is notifying GAE testers via e-mail of the following new policy and pricing changes that will take effect later this month, including the introduction of a new "Premier Account" offering at $500 per account per month, plus usage fees. From that e-mail:
• For all paid applications using the High Replication Datastore (HRD), we will be introducing a new 99.95% uptime SLA. The current draft form of the SLA can be found at http://code.google.com/appengine/sla.html. For apps not using HRD, we will also soon release a tool that will assist with the migration from Master/Slave (M/S) to HRD (you can sign up to be in the Trusted Tester for the tool here: http://goo.gl/3jrXu). We would like to emphasize that the SLA only applies to applications that have both signed up to be a paid App and use the HRD Datastore.
• App Engine has a 3 year deprecation policy. This policy applies to the entire App Engine platform with the exception of "trusted tester" and "experimental" APIs. This is intended to allow you to develop your app with confidence knowing that you will have sufficient notice if we plan to make any backward-incompatible API changes that will impact your application.
• We will be updating the Terms of Service with language more geared towards businesses. A draft of the new ToS can be found at http://code.google.com/appengine/updated_terms.html.
• We are introducing new Premier Accounts that will have access to Operational Support, invoice-based billing, and allow companies to create as many applications as they need for $500 per account per month (plus usage fees). If you are interested in a Premier Account, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be moving to a new pricing structure that ensures ongoing support of App Engine. Details of the new structure can be found at http://www.google.com/enterprise/cloud/appengine/pricing.html. This includes lowering the free quotas for all Apps. Almost all applications will be billed more under the new pricing. Once App Engine leaves preview this pricing will immediately go into effect, but we've done a few things to ease the transition:
• If you sign up for billing or update your budget between now and October 31st we will give you a $50 credit. • In order to help you understand your future costs we are now providing a side by side comparison of your old bill to what your new bill would be. You can find these in your Admin Console under "Billing history" by clicking on any of your "Usage Reports". Please review this information. It's important that you study this projected billing and begin any application tuning that you want to be in effect prior to the new bill taking effect. • We have created an Optimization Article to help you determine how you could optimize your application to reduce your costs under the new model. • We have created a Billing FAQ based on the questions many of our customers have had about the new pricing model. • The new pricing model charges are based on the number of instances you have running. This is largely dictated by the App Engine Scheduler, but for Python we will not be supporting concurrent requests until Python 2.7 is live. Because of this, and to allow all developers to adjust to concurrent requests, we have reduced the price of all Frontend Instance Hours by 50% until November 20th. • Finally, if you have any additional questions or concerns please contact us at email@example.com. (Thanks to @pradeepviswav for the mail)
Update (September 2): One GAE tester is none too happy about the newly announced pricing. Will be interesting to see how much additional push-back Google gets now that it has announced pricing plans for the non-test version of its cloud platform....
Microsoft began charging Azure customers as of February 1, 2010, for its own PaaS service. Microsoft has been continually tweaking Azure pricing in an effort to increase its appeal to smaller developers. The Redmondians ares expected to talk up Windows Azure during the second day of the Build conference in mid-September, sharing more with developers about its development tools and technologies there.
And in other cloud-related news...
Google seemingly is not interested in fielding offerings in the private cloud and/or cloud appliance arenas, where Microsoft is playing in addition to the public cloud space.
Microsoft is stepping up its private cloud evangelization and sales efforts, as of late, and published in late August a new whitepaper, entitled "Microsoft Private Cloud: A comparative look at Functionality, Benefits, and Economics." That paper focuses primarily on comparing Microsoft's private-cloud products with those from VMware.
Speaking of VMware, Dell and VMware announced this week a joint offering known as Dell Cloud with VMware vCloud Data Services. The pair will offer public, private and hybrid cloud capabilities. The public cloud offering -- hosted in a secure Dell data center -- sounds similar to the Windows Azure Appliance offering that Dell was on tap to launch with Microsoft late last year or early this year. (The Dell Cloud with VMware offering is in beta and will open to the general public in the U.S. in Q4 2011.)
Of the original Windows Azure Appliance partners -- Dell, HP and Fujitsu -- so far, only Fujitsu has made the Azure Appliance offering available to customers (and only as of August 2011).
When I asked Dell for an update on its Windows Azure Appliance plans, I received the following statement from a Dell spokesperson: "Dell continues to collaborate with Microsoft on the Windows Azure Platform Appliance and we don’t have any additional details to share at this time."