Beware the bait and switch in the public cloud

Google App Engine's price hikes and VMforce's quiet death give enterprise cloud developers and CIOs reasons to tread carefully

Even with all the great new product and vision announcements at the VMworld and Dreamforce vendor conferences this week, two announcements will make it more difficult for developers and CIOs to leap into their next cloud investment with confidence. Google, EMC VMware, and Salesforce.com, three vendors vying for cloud leadership status, share the blame for that lowered confidence.

Preview pricing has no place in the enterprise

Google products are well known for remaining in beta status well into their public life cycles. The beta, or preview, moniker is fun and cutesy -- until you're trying to establish an enterprise foothold, which Google App Engine is attempting.

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The problem with betas and previews, aside from the lack of SLA support for enterprise production workloads, is the uncertain pricing for the eventual "general availability" (GA) products and offerings. This point became crystal clear when Google announced new pricing for its App Engine cloud platform.

The Hacker News and Google Groups message boards dedicated to App Engine are filled with developers complaining about dramatic cost increases of 50 percent to more than 2,800 percent. Is anyone surprised by what the company that got socked with a 28-fold increase decided to do? "We are moving 22 servers away. Already started the process to move to AWS."

Enterprise developer and CIO confidence in using pre-GA cloud services definitely takes a hit with Google's new pricing. Amazon Web Services appears to be the beneficiary of Google's new pricing.

Complex cloud pricing poses a barrier for enterprises

It's been said before that Google, for all its greatness, just doesn't understand the enterprise software market; take a look at the current App Engine pricing model for proof.

Pricing per usage of bandwidth or compute instances is increasingly well understood by IT. In fact, these were the key elements of the original App Engine pricing model when the service was still in preview mode.

Pricing for five different API uses, as Google has introduced with the new App Engine pricing, is overly complex at best. Does the priced API model better reflect Google's expenses and provide developers and CIOs an opportunity to reduce their costs by using cost-effective APIs? Yes. But it's also confusing and complex. In some respects, the new pricing model feels like Google let really smart engineers, or actuaries, set the terms as a fun math exercise.

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