We pundits are getting carried away with ourselves, it seems. I caught up with Google App Engine product manager Pete Koomen a couple of hours ago and he told me quite categorically that App Engine is targeting consumer-focused applications, and not the business market:
"A couple of the restrictions mean we're not suitable for the business market," he told me, citing as examples the lack of an SLA and the ceilings on usage that result in a denial of service when exceeding the limits since there's no charging mechanism at present. "We're much more suitable for the consumer marketplace during the preview release."
So the 20,000 developers who've signed up for App Engine accounts this week — Google allowed another 10,000 into the preview last night and this morning after the first 10,000 accounts were snapped up within hours on Monday — had better not be building any business critical functionality. Which is as much as my ZDNet colleagues Dion Hinchcliffe and Garrett Rogers have written tonight (see also Techmeme discussion). As for my contention earlier today that App Engine has to embrace the business market if it's going to achieve durable success, well, that viewpoint's in abeyance for now.
Having said that, App Engine is going to evolve fast. Koomen's blog earlier today set out some of the developments that are in the pipeline:
- "Support for more languages. We're obviously huge Python fans, but we recognize that there are other great languages out there that developers use to build web applications.
- "Support for offline processing. Right now Google App Engine is great for web apps that do all of their processing in response to user requests, but what about apps that need to perform scheduled tasks or larger-scale data migration? We'd like to support those apps too.
- "Support for large files. Google App Engine currently imposes a limit of 1MB on all requests, both inbound and outbound. We're interested in providing efficient support for much larger uploads and downloads.
- "Billing for additional quota. During the preview release period, all apps are restricted to a set of free resource quotas. Although Google App Engine will always be free to get started, we plan on allowing developers to purchase additional resources in the future, while paying only for what they use."
The team is already excited about what some of its early wave of developers are building on the platform. "We've seen a couple of interesting [applications] so far," said Koomen. In a couple of weeks' time, he believes, there could be quite a few interesting showcase examples taking flight with the aid of the App Engine. Perhaps business imperatives will then start to reassert themselves.