Google launches app-hosting service

Google tonight stepped into the burgeoning cloud computing game, launching Google App Engine, a Web services initiative that allows developers to host applications on Google's infrastructure.

Available free to the first 10,000 developers, the service taps a fully scalable Web platform with Python-based application servers, GFS (Google File System), and BigTable data storage system at its core.

It is a move that competes obliquely with Amazon's well-established AWS (Amazon Web Services) platform, with Google offering AppEngine as a tightly bundled package and Amazon serving its S3 storage, EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), and Simple DB database a la carte.

Considered by many to be a necessary entrant for legitimizing the nascent cloud computing model, Google will allow developers the opportunity to serve up to three applications on App Engine, each with a cap of 500MB of storage and 10GB of bandwidth per day, which will serve an estimated 5 million pages per month.

In other words, don't expect full-blown enterprise-class utility computing from Google off the bat. Instead, single-developer widget shops and bootstrap startups will be among those to first test Google's initial foray into the infrastructure-for-hire space.

[ For an in-depth look at cloud computing, see What cloud computing really means ]

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