Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Google Cloud Economics, The Quota

Big news coming out of Google today. They have announced some new upcoming features to the Google App Engine platform. There really hasn't been much news coming out of the Google App Engine lately, so todays news is all the more exciting.

First up is a feature they're describing as a Downtime Notify Google Group, which is a dashboard to announce scheduled downtime and explain any issues that affect App Engine applications. This is similar to other trouble dashboards such as Amazon's.

The more interesting feature is that of the Quota Details Dashboard which enables a granular utilization view for each Google App Engine application. In case you've never used Google App Engine, one of the more unique aspects of the system is found within its use of a set of resource quotas that control how much CPU, Bandwidth, and storage space a Google App can consume. Currently all of this usage is free but in the future, developers will be allowed to purchase additional usage beyond these free quotas. Until today, potential customers of the system haven't had a real pricing model outlined beyond some vague pricing details. So it's been rather difficult to actually model a business on Google App Engine.

Google shed some light on the subject today, according to a blog post;

"You'll be able to buy capacity based on a daily budget for your app, similar to the way AdWords spending works. You'll have fine-grained control over this daily budget so you can apply it across CPU, network bandwidth, disk storage, and email as you see fit. You'll only pay for the resources your app actually uses, not to exceed the budget you set."

What I find the most interesting about all this new is Google's use of a Quota system for a tiered billing of cloud resources. In this quota model Google can attract a large user base by offering a "free" frictionless entry, while the more successful applications may choose to pay for enhanced services via Fixed or Per Day usage quotas. In my opinion this very well may be the first step in the creation of a true commodity based exchange of computing services and capacity.

In a post on GigaOm earlier today Allistair Croll said that "Google is carefully launching an ecosystem for developers to build and sell their cloud-based software." I did some digging on the subject, but other then Croll's comments, I couldn't find anything concrete on the subject coming from anyone at Google. But it does make sense, recent reports indicate that there is a market emerging around Google Apps with more then 10 million active users as well as signing up some 3,000 new companies a day, according to Matthew Glotzbach, product management director of Google Enterprise. So it would seem Google App Engine might be the ideal tool to power Google's emerging cloud application ecosystem. Think along the lines of a Cloud Application Marketplace. It’s the same basic concept Facebook did with its API or Salesforce did with AppExchange; in Google’s case, users may now have a global turnkey channel that can reach small businesses easily. Very cool.

I for one am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.

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