Today at its latest Campfire One event, Google announced major updates to Google App Engine, their scalable cloud computing Platform for web applications. App Engine developers will soon be able to create web-scale applications using standard Java APIs, and will be able to create AJAX components using Google's Web Toolkit. Other major features include cron support for scheduling tasks, tools for securely accessing and importing data, and a new Google development plugin for the Eclipse IDE.
What's in this initial Java for AppEngine release? This post on Google's official blog outlines the key features:
- App Engine's early look at Java language support includes a Java runtime, Integration with the new Google Web Toolkit 1.6, and a Google Plugin for Eclipse
- The Google Secure Data Connector enables centrally-managed access to on-premise data from Google Apps
- The database import tool makes it easier to move gigabytes of data into App Engine (and export functionality is coming within the month)
- Cron support can execute scheduled tasks like report generation and DB clean-up at regular intervals
On the Google Code blog, Andrew Bowers, Product Manager at Google emphasized their standards-based approach:
The team has taken a standards based approach, implementing standard Java APIs on top of App Engine where possible. So instead of using the underlying App Engine datastore API, developers can program against Java Data Objects or Java Persistence API.
These updates to Google App Engine represent a move to increase the potential developer base of the service, which, until now, has only provided support for the Python programming language. By providing access to standard Java libraries, Google App Engine will allow developers to easily transition existing Java-based web applications to the cloud computing service. Given Java's popularity among enterprise app developers as well as the support for the SSL-based Secure Data Connector, this release may help Google start making more inroads with behind-the-firewall enterprise developers.
Google also seems to be attempting to position its software-as-a-service platform as a more user-friendly alternative to competing services such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) or Microsoft's Azure. While EC2 provides developers with greater flexibility and choice, Google App Engine aims to attract customers by providing a more integrated cloud computing platform. For background on App Engine, check out our previous coverage of the Google App Engine launch.