James Governor's Monkchips

AppScale: Portable App Engine and Google Tries Again

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We just signed a new client called AppScale. Founded by Woody Rollins, who was also a co-founder at Eucalyptus, the company has a parallel playbook. Where Eucalyptus tried to establish itself as a play for building Amazon Web Services (AWS) compatible private clouds, AppScale is an open source implementation of Google’s App Engine PaaS. It is based on App Engine APIs and supports Python, Go, PHP and Java applications.

AppScale, launched back in 2011, has some high scale customers, and does well where customers are convinced of the App Engine model, but need, say fedRAMP compliance or to run in mainland China, or to take advantage of significant discounting by Microsoft Azure.

The core AppScale idea is interesting. However while from an engineering perspective Google App Engine (GAE) was generally quite well regarded, Google had trouble building a business around it. Pricing changes and customer uncertainty were both issues. Both Google and Microsoft initially bet PaaS and platform services would win, and Infrastructure would be quickly superseded. Unfortunately for both companies they were wrong, at least in a multi-year time frame. Enterprises were wary of proprietary PaaS technology and AWS casually crushed it with infrastructure services, before gradually adding platform specific services. Lock in was a more gradual process.

So what about App Engine futures? Google has resources to burn, a deep commitment to the cloud business, and reportedly recently hired an executive I greatly respect – Oren Teich, ex Heroku and Canvas, to run GAE. Meanwhile PaaS is clearly still a thing, even while Docker and Kubernetes are taking up so much of the air supply. Red Hat did 3 fundamental rewrites of OpenShift in 5 years, before settling on Kubernetes as a base, and hitting a market sweet spot. Pivotal continues to make progress with Cloud Foundry. IBM is retooling Bluemix around Kubernetes. These markets are by no means “done” yet.

In tech, like fashion, timing is everything. Google looks to be recommitting to App Engine.


AppScale, Cloud Foundry Foundation, IBM, Red Hat, Google, Pivotal, and Microsoft are all clients.



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